If you had a hammer in your toolbox, why in the world would you use a rock to pound in a nail? You wouldn’t. So, why do people treat their network like a locked toolbox?

Networking is the process of creating a resource for future success in both your personal and professional life. I believe this and hope I’ve managed to convey it. You build this resource through service to others, through the connections you make, and the relationships you develop.

So, do something with it.

Don’t just build the resource to brag about the number of people in your tickler file or address book. That’s like bragging about the number and quality of tools in your toolbox while your house is falling down around your ears. Start using it to make your life, your community, and your world a better place. Too many of us, when we get used to the idea of the importance of giving, forget the flip-side of the coin — the importance of being willing to receive.

“Oh, but I don’t want to impose.” I can hear you saying.

Tell me, when a good friend asks for a favor, do you feel they are imposing or are you excited by the idea that you can help them?

Why do you think you are somehow different in this?

Don’t think I’m leaving myself out of this cautionary message. I’ve absorbed the “Better to give than receive” programming as deeply as anyone. One of the ways I’m trying to grow my business is through presenting to businesses, organizations, and associations. Do I always remember to ask my networking contacts for help? Nope.

Did I mention that I’m not perfect?

Take a few minutes right now to know what you want to ask of your network. Then, the next time you are chatting with one of your contacts, if they ask how they can help, be sure to tell them.

Give them the gift of getting to be the hero for a change.

Photo: Tools by John Harvey