Lisa, Kaylie and I went to church at St Francis of Assisi this morning. The homily was about the passage in Luke regarding Jesus healing the ten lepers. According to the story, after he had healed them, Jesus sent the ten to the priests so that they could see what had happened. Only one of the lepers returned to show his gratitude. In the homily, our priest, Father Jim McDougall, told short vignettes about what might have happened to each of the other nine.

Each goes on his way and forgets about the miracle that happened to him. One goes on to live a successful, if ordinary, life. One seeks revenge on all of those who slighted him in his illness. One lives in fear of what is to come next. One decides to celebrate and parties until the wine is gone and he is left alone. Only the one who returns and shows his gratitude and leaves himself open to what his new life might be gets to carry the true joy of the miracle in his heart.

As I listened to the homily, I realized that the concepts here apply to good networking practice as well. Many of us receive the blessings of referrals. Someone is symbolically giving us a piece of their reputation and trying to make our lives better. Of course, we get the immediate benefit of the referral. We get the contract or the personal introduction or the information about a good babysitter. If we forget to show our gratitude, though, the referral becomes a forgotten moment in time, never to be experienced again.

Often the problem isn’t that we don’t want to show our gratitude. Instead, we allow the day-to-day issues of our lives distract us from that important act. Maybe the referral turns into business — so much that we don’t have time to think. Maybe we go off on vacation and by the time we get back we’ve forgotten that we were supposed to thank someone. Maybe we get sick or someone in our family is in need or maybe we just dropped the ball on this one. Whatever it is, we lose the chance to show that referral source just how important they are.

We need to go back to our source. We must clear out the clutter of the everyday and acknowledge what they’ve done for us. While no one is saying that you should become their disciple, keeping them in mind in the future to return the favor wouldn’t be at all inappropriate. In fact, it would make the “miracle” of that first referral into a long line of similar events where both of you will benefit.

So, remember and recognize those who have helped you on the way. Maybe next time it will be your turn to perform a “miracle”.

Photo credit: Flickr user edenpictures