June 1, 2010


JP Morgan & Co building across from NYSE Your network is your most valuable asset. That's what Jeffrey Gitomer says in The Little Black Book Of Connections (not an affiliate link).

Do you agree?

Even if you don't, you know your network is valuable. How do you use it for your maximum benefit?

Yes: Fish In A Barrel

You might think your network is there for you to harvest. You believe in your product or service. You're doing your network a disservice if you don't tell them about it. Besides, if you won't, someone else will. So why not you?

Before you do, ask yourself whether your network signed up to receive sales pitches from you. We're in the world of permission-based marketing. You can personalize your messages but are they anticipated? If not, you're spamming. It doesn't matter how noble your intentions.

No: To Serve And Protect

If you see yourself as a steward for your network, you are there to protect them --- even from your own good intentions to help. Otherwise, you're violating their trust. Sure they can unsubscribe from your emails or let your calls go unanswered. That doesn't mean they'll have a high opinion of you.

Your network may expect you to market to them. They may not want that but they know what happens in real life. Does following bad examples make your actions acceptable?

If you've built a social network on LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook, reaching out takes very little effort. Just because you can does not give you permission.

Your Network Knows

Your network already knows what you do. Simply stay visible. Every contact you make reminds them without you saying a word. They can buy from you when and if they want. They can do something even more valuable --- refer others to you. Why risk annoying them?

Planting seeds and nurturing them takes time. And leads to a bountiful harvest.

"Money On The Table"

Tall buildings fill the financial district of New York City. Across from the New York Stock Exchange, JP Morgan built a building of only a few storeys. That's the photo at the top of this post. He showed he was so wealthy that he didn't need the rent.

If you serve and protect your network, you're showing you don't need to exploit them. Your generosity sets you apart. You make yourself remarkable. You attract people who value this difference.


PS The Little Black Book also says that in networking, it isn't who know you know that counts: it's who knows you. Your actions decide whether you're remembered as a welcome guest or an annoying pest.

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