Can you say “gold mine”? Can you say “more networking contacts and sales than anyone can ever possibly imagine”? Can you say “no-brainer”? Networking organizations offer an opportunity to meet some very important people and shake hands with some of the most affluent in your city. This is an opportunity to give back. Recognizing that giving back is the determining factor in the quality of one’s life. Give back little, get back little – simple. Most go to networking functions to get and not to give; they have it mixed up.  When you go to take or get, your identity is being built and established as that of a taker. When your identity gets shaped and molded into that of a taker, it’s quite difficult to shift. If you go from taker to giver, others get suspicious that you are up to something. Just give and create the opportunities that arise when you give.

What do you give? What are networkers networking for? Leads. Leads provide sales, and sales provide money, and money is what the networker is after. The bottom line: the networker is networking with people, so that those people can provide the leads to generate the sales to make the money to satisfy bills, expenses, overhead, vacations, and a 401K. When you satisfy the core need that puts the networkers there, networking becomes a breeze and fun.

Most seem to go undercover and are still living out the old childhood concept of being seen, not heard. They are seen at those networking functions, yet not heard, and most tend to believe that it takes about three to six months to get heard. What a shame. You must separate from the herd to be heard, and giving immediately separates you. The high-octane key to effective lead giving is to listen closely to what each of the networkers do for a living. Then look into your mental Rolodex and give names and numbers of people you know in business. As an example, let’s say Jane sells printers, and you know a businessman, Jim, in Florida who uses printers and who is possibly in the market for a new printer. I do not assume that just because Jim has a printer that Jim is happy with his printer.

Who am I to determine whether Jim is in the market for a printer? Let Jane figure that one out. Who am I to determine whether my friend with a family of five has enough life insurance? Let the insurance person figure that one out. Who am I to determine that, just because she has two cars, my friend is not in the market for a new or upgraded car? Let the car person figure that one out. A problem I traditionally see is that the person giving the lead prequalifies the lead too much. Give the lead, and let them figure out the details. After you give the lead, you may then call the lead, should you choose to do so, and let them know you met someone who sells printers and seems like a really nice person, and you thought that the printer saleswoman might be a good gal to talk to – simple. You would not turn your friend over to a schmuck. The great part about giving leads is that it allows for one of the greatest influence tools to go into effect: the law of reciprocity. The law of reciprocity says that as you give, you must get.

When I was eighteen, I sold Fuller Brush door-to-door and had a route that I would visit weekly. On my route, I would knock and get some people who would not open their doors. Some people would yell from the other side of the door that they were not interested, and thanks for coming by, and I should stop by on my next go around. Well, you and I know that I would starve to death if I kept it at that. I had something to sell, and they were buyers, and my job was to get a skeptical buyer into our products. They would say no over and over. Finally, I would retreat to my big guns, which almost guaranteed getting the door open. I would say, “OK, but I have a free gift for you.” Without their acceptance of the gift, I would drop it through the mail slot located on the door. The moment the gift hit the inside of their house and they picked it up was the same moment the chain came off the door. Presto, I was in, and the sale was made. The gift that I would give would be a simple five-cent comb or a two-cent witchhazel hand lotion or a simple vegetable brush. The success wasn’t in the size of the gift; the success was in the fact that the gift existed at all. The moment you take the gift is the moment you feel compelled to reciprocate.

The Hare Krishna take advantage of this concept with flowers. If, when you’re running through an airport, you do not take the flower that the Hare Krishna gives to you, then you do not have to give. The moment you take is the moment you reach into your pocket to give. Give your networking partners leads and more leads. Another great part about giving leads is you do not have to have this amazing, outrageous personality. You do not have to spend all this time matching and mirroring and wondering if you are in rapport with them. Leads are a great compensating factor. To make a long section short: Do not go undercover. Do not be a fly on the wall. Do not be a taker. Do be a giver.