First a quick lesson in cell biology within the human body. Stick with me now, this may give you an important mindshift.
You probably assume that all the cells in your body are programmed to live. And maybe you hope they will live for a long long time.
In fact the opposite is true. Millions of cells die in your body every day, and they are constantly being replaced. The cells in your body are programmed to die, and die quickly if required. All the cells in your body are continually exchanging "don't die" signals with each other, provided each cell is correctly performing it's function. If a cell malfunctions or is somehow "out of position" the surrounding cells withhold the "don't die" signal and the cell dies "immediately". It's like turning off a switch.
Cancers are caused by the failure of the cells to correctly switch off, and Alzheimer's is caused by the cells switching off out of order or too soon. Sometimes this may be caused by faults in the cells, but more likely it's a failure in the genetic system that allows a process that was once in control to get out of control.
Let us apply the model of cell biology in the human body, to people in the body of the community.
Lets assume also that far from being programmed to be selfish and greedy and independent, people are naturally cooperative, helpful and social, even to the extent of dying on command. (It's a thought experiment go with it.)
The person, is shaped by society, told how to be, and where participate and how to get "don't die" signals. We discover that "don't die" signals are of many kinds, love , respect, appreciation, acknowledgement and understanding. We recognise that if we have membership status in several organisations, we can get "don't die" signals from more and more places.
A person with a diverse and well chosen network, gets an abundance of "don't die" signals. Moreover, that person also gets strong guidance about how to live, where to live and what to do. A person without such a network suffers from a lack of nurturing a lack of mentors and struggles to find a way in life.
I can take the analogy further and talk about the growth of elements in our society that are unresponsive to the signals. The ones that get change signals and don't change or die signals and don't die. (Like cancer) There are people who get "don't die" signals, but who seem unable to respond to them. (Like Alzheimer's)
In this model I've suggested, the purpose of the network is to supply signals to it's members, not only to keep them alive, but also to enable them to be in the right places, to help members adapt successfully to life. That is a much wider vision of the purpose of networking than most people imagine when they enter into new networks.
Far too many people enter the world of networking with strange ideas about what they intend to do. This short file should help clarify some key principles.
From the analogy above remember that the purpose of the network is to send you appropriate signals. To tell you when you are doing well and to warn you when you are leaving the roadway. You also have your own role in giving network members recognition signals.
When you join a network, look for people who can be your mentors. Try to learn from those people by joining the groups they are in. You might also find that they have some interesting friends who may also be suitable mentors.
Recognise and understand your own strengths and who you might be able to help. Be prepared to act as a mentor yourself.
This world is full of change. Many of the standard "rules of thumb" that people live by in their daily lives are being challenged. Much of this change is being driven by the Internet. New information is driving innovation and shifting understanding. This technology is serving practical purposes in helping people to adapt to change. The people in your network will with your help understand that change early enough to make use of it. In the process of discussion you will learn to adapt to the new realities, whatever they may be.
If you are willing to learn, networking will change your life. Reading a book can change your life, but networking is better. You can misread a book, and the book is silent. If you misread the views of a peer, if your mentors recognise that you've made a mistake, they will tell you. If you are open to being helped, help will come.
First of all if your ambition is to sell stuff. DON'T, at least in the first instance. Trying to make a sale while pretending to be a friend is grossly offensive. I assure you that the "don't die" signals will stop.
If you represent a MLM company or you are seeking to develop affiliate advertising sites, none of your network associates want to hear about it. Tell them what you are doing, but never try to make the sale.
Remember names and what people are really interested in. Make an effort to remember, at least for the people you decide are important to you. Print out a page of text for each one. Read it and highlight the key features. Listen to what this person is saying. Pay attention, be there, be real.
The professionals stand out. They have something interesting to say and they are focused on producing value in the relationship. To do that they try to be helpful and honest. Sometimes having the courage to say what you believe when that is not generally what other people say they believe, can be important. That will set you apart, and give you a reputation for being straight-up. We know the world is changing. People who have the imagination to understand that change, and who can see best ways to respond to the change are critical to the success of a network. Explaining what you see and how you are trying to adapt is an important service you can do in sending appropriate signals to the network. Of course that takes some courage, and if you do it badly you may offend someone. To be an effective networker you have to play an active role as a member.
There is an alternative of course. You can resist change, you can avoid the debate, you can do nothing and be quite happy. But the world will pass you by. Your engagement in networks is to be part of the signalling system that keeps you "intouch". Choosing not to be "intouch" is equally a choice you can make.