Greetings from sunny Florida!
Here you find me in Ft. Lauderdale coming back from a long July 4th weekend. The picture was taken by my fiance, Craig, who just loves to take photos. I decided that I would start getting better pictures of the world of networking as I have experienced over the last decade or so.
Especially in these shaky economic times the last thing any of us need is to form relationships with people who look like dolphins–very sociable and attentive, but end up like sharks–feeding off of our connections for their individual gain. Those of you who regularly visit LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) know that there are more Networlders on there than you thought would ever be in one place at one time.
My suggestion to any of you out there networking is to be discerning. Take your time when first connecting with new people. I have found the adage "listen with your eyes rather than your ears" is a good one. You will actually lose good business or career development time when you hastily build connections rather than take your time over two or three meetings with someone.
It’s all about trust and that is something that comes through behavior–what you say you are going to do is what you do. My suggestion would be start with just one, small and simple thing you and the new person you want to network with can do for one another. As I often say in Networlding, "Think exchange." This could look like you sending over a link to some useful information. Now you have done something small and, hopefully, the potential networking partner you have just met will reciprocate or, at the least, respond with a healthy "thank you." If not, you now know more about this person. The bottom line? Seek people who reciprocate and find if they do, first, before you invest too much into the relationship.