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The currency of true networking is generosity

13 February 2013

Many of us are addicted to networking – attending events, linking in, spending time doing everything but acting on the purpose of our organisation. NB: it only works if you give.

If networking were a way of earning money, many of us would be millionaires. We spend most of our time connecting to other people, in the hope that it will lead somewhere. Some people fail at networking because they approach it with an ‘I need to get something’ attitude rather than looking at it as an opportunity to connect with someone and share ideas.

If we took a diametrically opposed attitude to the network we’re thinking of joining, however, things might turn out radically different.

Here’s the suggestion: instead of thinking what you could get out of a network, join it with the clear and simple intention of giving. Join to give.

Digital technology is about listening, sharing, giving – all about generosity. Who still believes in the old adage that ‘knowledge is power’ and takes that to mean they should keep information to themselves? This is a fallacy in people who often get left behind by the sheer rate of change. Shared knowledge is way more powerful. There’s nothing more empowering than being seen as the one who is happy to share. Knowledge used to be power, and as such was closely guarded. Now reputation is power—and giving your knowledge away is the best thing you can do for the benefit of your reputation.

A true networker builds trust, understanding the needs of the collaborative / free / crowdsourced / sharing movement.  Online, this movement has unlocked the perennial need of individuals to be appreciated, to be loved, to feel part of the greater good, to contribute, to help.

The message here for companies, charities and other social purpose organisations is that giving paves the way for collaborating. Companies can learn from consumers: they need to mirror this societal shift if they want to be relevant. We’re talking about being a ‘generous’ brand – one that is generous to customers, generous to employees, generous to the environment, generous to social causes.

It really is a back-to-basics learning lesson for companies. The more we help / assist / advise / counsel, the more we are relevant and the better we succeed.

Sharing is the new giving…and giving is already the new taking.