Networking for the New Year (and beyond)

I’ve been talking with some people for years, trying to define ‘relationship’ in the context of networking as a step to defining how to value those relationships. I’m giving up on those conversations as of today. For one, they are based in the assumption that one person is worth more than another. No doubt, someone may bring you more revenue in one way or another, but sooner or later, that sort of ‘relationship’ is going to feel like indentured servitude.

A relationship is a connection that feels equal, no matter who is buying or selling. Or, for that matter, who does the dishes. When you connect one of your relationships to another, you create a new node on the relationship network. The more nodes you create and the stronger they are, the more value you have brought to your entire network, which you can consider as broad or narrow as you prefer. For me, it’s the whole world. And that’s the only thing I’d like to value: your contribution to the world.

One of the New Year’s resolutions I keep hearing from people is that they are going to get out and network more. I keep trying to bite my tongue and not ask rude questions like, are you out of work? This year I’m going to focus on creating value for my whole network. So please, even if the person I introduce to you is not an experienced networker (that is, they haven’t yet learned to offer something to you, too) would you try to help them? I’ll respect you for it and even if they don’t give you something of value, I’ll try to. Or, if this works as I believe it does, someone else – another node-creator – will.

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