Good networking is all about being willing to provide value with no expectation of return. You should always be looking for ways you can help other people with pursuing their passions and goals. That being said, be sure you are giving the other person the same opportunity.

My good friend and now my business coach, Jim Woods of LST Advisors, is a superb example of this. I first met Jim when he gave a presentation at a local networking event called the “Abundance Forum”. He had good stuff to share, but we didn’t have a chance to connect. I later ran into him again at a Red Cross fundraising where we finally had a chance to exchange cards.

Now, you all know my opinions of the value of business cards. Jim is one of the few exceptions I’ve found to that rule. He called up not long after and we set up a coffee.

At our meeting, Jim really impressed me by taking an active interest in my life and my business. He managed to walk that narrow line between being interested without being nosy. What’s more, he immediately had a few observations about some of the challenges I might run into while growing my coaching practice. He even offered a suggestion or two on how to approach some of the upcoming problems.

And he did all that while never selling his services as a business coach.

After our meeting, he followed up by inviting me as his guest to one of his day-long business development seminars. Again, no pressure, no sales. Just an invitation.

Now, yes, I know that this is all part of his prospecting process. He has enough confidence in the quality of what he has to offer that he knows he can give some away. Still, his process is just good networking. I get the feeling if, after I had taken his seminar, I had decided not to engage him as my business coach, he still would have been a great networking connection.

It’s obvious that he cares about others that much.

There are a lot of knowledgeable people in your network — people who are willing to share some or all of their expertise with a networking connection. So, while you are listening for ways you can help them, be sure you aren’t missing the ways they are trying to help you. In the long run, you will both be better off.

Photo credit: Ballistik Coffee Boy