Last issue, we talked about the Law of Giving and Receiving (“Give and you shall receive”) and how it operates in our lives and businesses. This issue, let’s take that further and look at the grand paradox underneath that Law:

When you give purely out of the love of giving, you cannot help but receive. Yet when you give only in order to receive, it doesn’t work!

What’s important is to simply give, without any expectation that the person to whom you’re giving repay you in kind, but purely out of the joy of adding increase to the life of another.

People are attuned to your intent; it’s human nature. When you give only in order to get, it comes across as such. More often than not, they can tell. (And yes, some people have a knack for getting away with this—but eventually it will come back to haunt them.)

When you give because it’s something you desire to do, and do so without the expectation of direct reciprocation, the Law of Cause and Effect will work for you in ways the typical businessperson might never even imagine. Thomas Power, author of Networking For Life, calls this “the willing suspension of self-interest.”

Superstar Networkers

This is the trait common to those I call “superstar networkers”: they constantly ask themselves how they can add to the life and business of the other person, as opposed to what they can get from them.

Note that this does not mean they don’t expect to prosper. On the contrary: they know they’ll prosper, and in a huge way. But they’re not emotionally attached to having to reap the rewards right then and there, or even ever, directly from that person. Thus, they can fully focus on the giving. They know that the more they give, the more they’ll eventually get. Yes, it really does work that way.

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

Now, there are those who seem to be givers, but whose methodology is so sharply limiting that it doesn’t fulfill the qualities of giving we’re discussing—nor does it produce the same results.

The Quid Pro Quo Networker

This is the person who gives only in order to get something back. (As Dr. Hannibal Lecter put it so eloquently, “Quid pro quo, Clarice…quid pro quo.” ) This type of pseudo-networker always has an agenda and soon gains a reputation as such.

A QPQ networker can and sometimes does attain his share of business—but he will never develop the kind of long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with others that the superstar networker will enjoy. He will never elicit in others those feelings of knowing, liking and trusting that is the hallmark of the genuine networker’s relationships.

If he does get anything back from the relationship, it will at most be exactly what he gave in the first place and no more—and most likely, it will come grudgingly. What’s more, it most likely will come back from that one source alone, and only that one time. Any success this person achieves will be mere inches on the yardstick of profitable, superstar networking.

The Genuine Networker

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’s business-related. She is always suggesting ways that those from whom she purchases goods or services can improve their own businesses.

Genuine networkers give actively and without expectation. They are always thinking of what they can give, how they can give, and to whom they can give.

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.

Successful, giving, profitable, superstar networkers seem to have a knack for hooking up with other success givers. It’s not luck: they are specifically looking to identify these types of people. Why? Because they know that while average networking relationships are 50/50, the most exciting and profitable ones are 100/100: both people are trying so hard to help each other succeed that success comes back to each of them in spades.


These people are also “connectors,” always asking themselves who they can connect. They know that everyone they know or meet might be a valuable contact to someone else in their network. The fun part is introducing them and setting up the relationship. And when you do this, the goodwill and positive feelings this elicits in others can come back to you in incredible abundance.

The essence of being a Connector is the proactive drive to make the connections. They don’t worry about whether they’ll “get anything” in return. They know they’ll be taken care of—and well taken care of. It’s simply not an issue.

You don’t have to be born a Connector—you can become one! Simply practice the habit of giving without expectation, without concern for what you’re going to “get” from the other person. Know that when you tap into the sheer joy of giving and connecting, you’re going to get, and get big-time.

Don’t think about it too much; just get out there and give yourself away! Way before you even get close, you’ll get back so much in return, you’ll know you’ve become a superstar networker.

This article, the second of a series of four, is adapted from Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales, 3rd Edition.

BOB BURG is a faculty member of Networking University
and a frequent speaker at networking conventions.