Superstar networkers--those whose businesses are extremely profitable and whose personal lives are filled with friends and loving relationships--share two common traits. They are givers; and they are connectors.

 

What Givers Aren't

There are two types of "givers" who are not true givers. The first is people who give only in order to get something back. (As so eloquently put by the esteemed Dr. Hannibal Lecter, "Quid pro quo, Clarice ... quid pro quo.") This type of "networker" quickly becomes known as someone who, when he does something for another, always has an agenda.

Quid-pro-quo networkers can and do attain their share of business, but they never develop the kind of long-lasting, mutually beneficial, give-and-take relationships with others that true superstar networkers will enjoy. They also usually get back only what they've given (and that only grudgingly), and no more--and most likely, from that one source alone. In other words, their brand of networking doesn't tend to proliferate or create a positive, productive ripple effect, as does true superstar networking.

Then there is the "giver" who gives in a way that hurts himself. Why would someone possibly do that? Because there's a payoff. Not the productive payoff of success, but the emotionally slanted payoff that says, "Look at me, I'm a martyr. Here I am, always doing for others, while no one does for me."

Like the quid-pro-quo opportunist's giving, the martyr's giving does not lead to true success.

 

What Givers Are

The superstar, mega-successful, high-dollar-earning networker is the greatest and most active giver you know. She is constantly referring business to others. She is always on the lookout for a piece of information that will interest someone in her network of friends and prospects--regardless of whether or not it is business-related. She is always suggesting ways that the people from whom she purchases goods or services can improve their own business.

Superstar networkers give actively and without expectation. They are always thinking of what they can give, how they can give, and to whom can they give. My friend Mike Litman, author of the best-selling Conversations With Millionaires and one of the most successful givers I know, talks about how this creates an "asset of value." This is what you bring to the table in your relationships with others--and it doesn't cost you a cent!

Tim Sanders, author of the bestseller, Love is the Killer App, describes this as "the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your "intangibles." According to Sanders, our intangibles are our knowledge, our network, and our compassion.

 

Givers are Connectors

Successful, giving, profitable networkers seem to have a knack for hooking up with other success givers. This is not luck: They specifically look to identify these types of people. Why? Because they know that average networking relationships are 50/50, but the most exciting and profitable ones are 100/100--both people trying so hard to help the other succeed that success comes back to both in spades.

These same people are also what are called "connectors." They are always asking themselves who they can set up with each other. They know that everyone they know and/or meet might be a valuable contact to someone else in their network. The fun part is introducing them and setting up the relationships. In so doing, the good will and positive feelings you elicit in others can come back to you in incredible abundance.

My network is filled with people who always keep each other in mind, constantly providing suggestions and other contacts. Some are like my dear friend Terri Murphy, networking superstar and author of E-Listing and E-Selling Secrets for the Technologically Clueless. I don't speak with Terri as often as I'd like, but whenever I do, she immediately wants to know if there are any people or potential clients I'd like to be introduced to. And of course, I always want to do the same for her--not out of obligation, but because I really like her!

In my book, Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales, I refer to Terri as "The 14 Million Dollar Woman" because, when she was an active realtor, that's how much she sold. Knowing Terri for even a moment, it's easy to see why.

Once, while speaking near her city, I paid her a visit to see just how she does what she does. Walking through her town with her, you'd think you were with a visiting Hollywood celebrity. Everyone knows her, and everyone adores her. Why? Because she not only seems concerned with their welfare, she also acts upon it. She actively tries to help everyone with whom she comes in contact. She connects people with each other in a way that helps everyone to benefit. As a result, people feel good about her. They know her, they like her, and they trust her.

As my friend, Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI (Business Networks International, a lead-exchange organization with affiliations world-wide) and author of the bestseller, Masters of Networking, says: "Givers gain." Yes, it's that simple.

There is, however, one caveat: there is a paradox in being a giver. When you give, you cannot give with the idea of getting--yet you know that when you give substantially, you're going to get, and get big-time.

How can you not know what you know? Don't worry about it; just try not to think about it too much. Just get out there and do your best to give yourself away. You'll get back so much in return, you'll know you've become a superstar networker!

 

BOB BURG

is author of Endless Referrals and Winning Without Intimidation, and a free weekly e-zine on networking (www.burg.com).