« »
November 24, 2007 » 7:15 am

Authentic Relationships and Networking

A few months ago, I received a card from Deborah Meehan and my friends at the Leadership Learning Community (LLC). It was the second card I’ve received from them since joining their board earlier this year, and there was a long, personal note inside.    (MQV)

When Deborah and the others at LLC do things like send a card, it is a manifestation of an authentic feeling, which is a fancy way of saying that they actually mean it. Deborah is a fantastic networker, but she doesn’t network. She builds real relationships.    (MQW)

Contrast this to an experience I had on Facebook recently. My MO with most Social Network sites is to be pretty liberal about adding people to my network. (There are exceptions to this, which are probably worthy of a separate blog post one of these days.) If you invite me, and I know you, I’ll accept. If I don’t know you, then you’d better have a good reason for bothering me.    (MQX)

A few weeks ago, I got a Facebook “friend” request from a woman I didn’t recognize. We did have one friend in common, someone I knew and trusted. However, she also had over a thousand friends, which was a tip off that I probably didn’t want to deal with her. Nevertheless, I sent her a polite message asking her how we had met. She said that we hadn’t. I then asked why she had “friended” me. She responded that she couldn’t resist the smile in my picture.    (MQY)

That lame response pretty much killed any chance of me ever giving her the time of day. Nevertheless, my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to Google her. Turns out this woman is a “professional networker” (tip off number two for me to stay away). Even worse, one of her tips for networking is to always give people a valid reason for connecting to them. Apparently, she didn’t believe in practicing what she preached.    (MQZ)

This, my friends, is why I hate “networkers.” You want to build a better network? Here’s my two-step process. Go someplace where there are people. Have Authentic Conversations. That means, follow your curiosities and passions, and listen.    (MR0)

Lest you feel this experience is indicative of the challenges of building real relationships online, let me end this post with a good Facebook experience. About a month ago, I got a “friend” request from Ken Carroll. I had no idea who he was at the time, but in his initial request, he wrote a nice note explaining that he was the founder of ChinesePod.com, he was aware of my work, and that he wanted to connect. So I looked at his stuff and thought to myself, “Wow, this guy is doing incredible work. I’d love to learn more.”    (MR1)

I accepted his request, and we exchanged a few messages. That’s all so far. But I guarantee that there will be more to this story, whether it’s next month, next year, or longer. Maybe it will be a random bit of knowledge I cull from his Facebook page. Maybe it will be an introduction to another interesting person. Maybe it will be sharing stories over drinks. Maybe we’ll work together on something. Maybe it will be all of the above. The bottom line is that whatever happens, all it took to start was an authentic gesture.    (MR2)

Tags: , , , ,

« »

Leave a Reply