I was inspired by Todd Smith’s blog post tonight about being careful with how you treat everyone in your life, because it all reflects on your reputation.

I’m sure you know the old saying about telling how good a person is based on how they treat someone from whom they have nothing to gain. While that is certainly true, the good networker knows that, really, there is no such someone. You might not recognize it right away, but you always have something to gain. Not only does this mean that you should treat everyone with decency and kindness, as Todd said in his blog, but also be willing to recognize that each person you meet can be a part of your team — can be one of your ambassadors.

For some of us, that linkage is a little more obvious than others. What does a children’s book publisher have to gain from an association with a commercial real estate agent? Obviously, the real estate agent isn’t going to be stocking shelves of children’s books. The local bookseller, whom he helped find a new location for their shop, probably does, though. Wouldn’t that introduction be helpful?

Other linkages might not be so obvious. What benefit could a web designer who works from his home office get from having a commercial cleaner in his network? He can’t use the service himself, after all. True, but he might know someone in his network who can (and good networkers are known for the success they bring to their connections). It might be something more subtle, too. Maybe the cleaner’s wife is on the board of a local private school which the web designer’s brother is trying to get his kids into.

The point is, until you are ready to consider every person you meet as a potential member of your network, you will never learn enough about them to know how you can help them and then be helped in return. Never turn up your nose because you think they have nothing to offer. The truth is, you just never know.

Photo credit: Shlomit Wolf