You have not known me long and not realized that I am more then a little passionate about networking. For me the goal of networking is to help the people I know and meet get the maximum potential of the rest of the network.
I truly believe we all know someone we can help or who can be helped by someone else we know or who is known to someone else we know.
My networking group ExecTec has been and always will be about creating an environment that promotes getting to know others well enough to engage in helping each other and often that is as much about helping other friends as helping each other.
I was reminded of this when this evening I noticed via a Foursquare push message to my iPhone that my good friend and executive coach Steve Zuback (@zexeccoach) was dinning with another friend and ExecTec member Garic Chan (@ilovegarick). I was pleased that two great people who met through ExecTec were getting together beyond our Tuesday nights at D’Amores.
Mark Suster (@msuster), who refers to himself as a 2x entrepreneur gone to the Dark Side of VC as a General Partner for GRP Partners, in this blog post talks about how twitter has distinct advantages over traditional social networks which are more restricted to people whom we already know and that their information and updates are less discoverable.
In making his point, Mark highlights the idea of really getting out and discovering and meeting new people. If you network just with the people you know then you really are missing out on the boundless potential of others. It is interesting to see how Mark used twitter to reach out to people he barely knew and the connections he made as a result.
Mark’s article reminds me of a breakfast I had with Michael Trup (@miketrup) back in early 2006. Michael was in from the UK to attend a convention in Las Vegas and would be in LA for a day or so and had put out an open call to meet him on a networking site we both frequented. While to date (over 4 years later) not much more then an interesting breakfast has come from that contact, I remember Michael and our connection and I dare say that I am confident that Michael would openly accept contact an offer what assistance he could if someone reached out to him at my suggestion.
I also remember with fondness a contact from now good friend Bill Sobel (@bsobel226) who reached out to me through Linkedin pitching a product that was not a fit for my company but that contact and a follow-up breakfast months later would lead to a friendship that has last years despite our being being geographically separated by the bulk of the country and has resulted in many positive things for us and our friends.
Now while networking is often focused on meeting people or introducing yourself to others the above inspires me to suggest people try the concept of introducing others to each other. There are always those people you know who you would not think twice of introducing to others. These are people that it is easy to be passionate about and who invoke/inspire you. Simply put they are well worth knowing.
So who do you know that other people should really get to know either virtually or perhaps in person? When you meet someone new how often do you think of who you know who might be a well met addition to that persons network?
In the past, I have at an ExecTec dinner had members shard with each other their favorite books. Those books that they felt they could without hesitation recommend to each other. So taking off that experience I suggest that people share contacts that they would recommend others taking the time to get to know.
You never know you might tell someone about just the right person to help both of them achieve great things together and that is truly what networking is about.