Our daughter, Abigail, is two weeks old and is, in general, a true delight and a wonder. She’s a very sweet baby and is already teaching me lessons about life and (I know you’ll find this a shock) networking. I’ve been amused to find the similarities between my infant daughter and several networking connections whom I’ve met.
Both have needs that they don’t necessarily communicate. For Abigail it’s because she only speaks in grunts and cries thus far. For my connections, they often won’t communicate their needs because for them it feels presumptuous to tell others about their problems without being asked.
In both cases I need to address the needs that they are currently experiencing in order to be the hero. For Abby, if she’s hungry, changing her diaper just isn’t going to do the trick. Likewise, if a connection really needs new office space, then finding them speaking engagements, while perhaps appreciated, won’t be solving their current major issue.
Of course, there are some significant differences, too. While it does me no good to ask Abby about what might be bothering her, that same question can help me understand where my networking connection is having their issues. Also, I’ve noticed that most of my contacts rarely scream at me when I don’t get their needs exactly right.
While, of course, I don’t think of the folks I meet as a bunch of babies, some of the lessons I’ve learned from taking care of Abigail certainly can come in handy. It helps to remember that everyone has their own needs which they seek to meet. If we put forth the effort to help them accomplish those goals we become a valuable person in their life.