Who Comes First in Networking?

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844844_love Recently on MyLinkedInPowerForum, Vincent Wright posed the following challenging question:

How do you feel about networking with someone who puts their own interests ahead of yours?

My answer? Just fine, within reason. In fact, people who are always ready to give, but then don’t take care of themselves, concern me!

I subscribe to the “pay it forward” philosophy. You may often find yourself in a position where you can help someone else a whole lot more than they can help you. But at some point in time, they’re going to be in that same position with someone else, and at some point in time, someone else is going to be in that position with you. The idea that reciprocity means exchanging equal value with every single person is, well, emotionally immature (politest way I can put it).

I’ve also found that quite often what other people interpret as “putting their own interests ahead of yours” is really “putting the interests of other people they’ve already made a commitment to ahead of yours”.

I have always said that your first responsibilities are to:

  1. Yourself
  2. Your family
  3. Your business partners
  4. Your employees and coworkers
  5. Your existing clients
  6. Your qualified prospects

What does it say about somebody if they push back an existing client for an hour to network with you?  Or skip their kid’s baseball/soccer/football game because they’re too busy “working”, which includes several hours a week of “networking”?  Or let their health slide because they’re choosing networking over working out?  Or if their product or skills are out-of-date because they never spend any time on professional development?  Or if they’re constantly stressed out because they don’t take mental breaks throughout the day and are working 80 hours a week?  Or if they’re having economic difficulty because they’ve spent too much time networking instead of other aspects of their business?

Sure, networking is a way of life, but it’s still only one dimension of your life.  The next time someone tells you, or acts like, they’re “too busy” to network with you, put yourself in their shoes. What other commitments might they already have? Are they really putting “their own” needs in front of yours?  Or the needs of other people?  It doesn’t mean you’re “less important” – it just means that there are other people in line in front of you.

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  1. Networking is somewhat like the old playground experience of a teeter-totter. Sometimes you are on the giving end, sometimes on the receiving end. And, sometimes you just coast. In addition to the above factors mentioned by Scott, there is one overriding element that must be considered. Those of us who love to network, stay in touch with people, drop quick notes and explore the ever growing world of connectivity on the internet will always be asking for an introduction (and be willing to reciprocate) even if there’s a delay because we’re busy already connecting with someone else. For those who find this openness somewhat unnerving, they will approach it more cautiously and wonder why so many people want to get in touch w/them. Yes there are different strokes for different folks – – even when it comes to networking. The balance??? For those who love to network – – maybe be more thoughtful of who you’re contacting and why. For those who are more reticent – – step outside your comfort box and give it a try.

  2. You’re absolutely right. Networking is important, but only after you’ve taken care of yourself first. If you get lost in the online world it will eat you alive. Then you find yourself overworked and stressed out.

    I myself was doing this for awhile. Then I had to step back, drop a few things from my schedule and take some time for myself. I still network, but on my own time.

    Kay, thanks for commenting and mentioning that people shouldn’t be afraid to step outside their comfort zone. That’s very important in self development.

  3. Networking in home based business is vital to success! There are 2 meetings in Feb in Canada for this very opportunity, but where can they be posted? I am will to go there but have not found the right forum to announce it

    being new to this form of business, I am at a loss to figure some of the on-line networking

    Jim Rohn said ‘if you help enough other people meet their needs, your needs will be met along the way’ which is what I have learned about this home based networking business… my up-line folks are the greatest! their goal is that I succeed & DUH.. they do well, too

    patsy wwwmonkink.com

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