If I Scratch Your Back, Do You Scratch Mine?

A buzzword these days is “Networking”.  I interpret this “movement” to be a mutual sharing of ideas with the bottom line of sharing of sources, resources and exchanging recommendations.  Right?   Well, some are in a better place to recommend than others and some have limited resources for being recommended.   There’s always W.O.M. (Word of Mouth), which includes present and past clients and perhaps some advertising and PR, depending on the type of business.  (That other buzz-term) “Social Media” is another way to be out in the world with Twitter, Facebook and their relatives.  Some businesses find that this is great for growth.  At least, I would suggest that it’s good to be part of what’s current and how could it hurt if done appropriately?

In conversation this morning, etiquette came up.  Etiquette in networking  is new, but has been quite
“front and center”  in my own thoughts recently.   I heard today:  “I recommended someone to a client of mine and I got a quick ‘Thanks’ when they first talked.  Later, that client told me that they had extended the work to ultimately include a fee of 175K and I had no idea!”  There was no expectation of fee-sharing (of course), but HEY!  Would a phone call not have been a nice gesture--or a letter or even a quick e-mail been appropriate?  Even a free dinner would have been uncomplicated and not too much.  What is this about? (Or a trip to Europe perhaps?)

I am a professional in what I do.  Whenever I can, I pass on specialists, professionals and vendors that I work with on Design projects and all kinds of folks that I have other relationships with.  It includes areas of expertise from nearly everyone on my “speed dial” cell phone list to artists, yoga studios and personal trainers that are part of the other aspects of my life.  The number of times that I never find out what followed my match-up is staggering and seems to be the usual course.  Occasionally, I do find out that I did a good thing and a relationship is progressing, but I do it so often that following up myself every time would be impractical.

So, I guess I will continue to do what I do, and not dwell on the fact that few people I recommend or fix-up return the favor.  Right now, it would seem especially considerate, but I don’t do it only for reciprocity – I’ve liked the sharing.   At some point, this may (I am afraid, quite likely) change.  When I hire a summer intern and her mother recommends me to a customer of hers and, 4 years later, I still have that client, that’s a good exchange…plus I made a couple of nice purchases at the mom’s store in between.

If you see yourself here, and in MY life you know who you are (and aren't), pick up the phone; send an e-mail or even a personal note (what’s that??) to say “thanks”, “how’s it going” or “contact THIS person”.   Remember that this networking dialog is meant to go back and forth and I don’t want to keep hearing myself supporting those who don’t appreciate it.  It doesn’t matter if we are buddies, we can still keep that up!   But I also like meeting new people--and lots and lots of folks (especially in the construction industry) want to show me how awesome they are.

There was a great picture of a knife I wanted to use above, then changed my mind.  Appropriate to Halloween, but maybe too negative. Looking positive is probably better.  Boo!

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