Networking: ABG and the Covert Contract

We all know that we should be working on our network but often this is seen as something that is extremely time-consuming with a poor ROI. Sure, there are some simple daily and weekly practices that will help you, but here I would like to address an ethos that, in my view, underpins the whole idea of networking.

Anyone who has had sales training or, indeed, has watched the movie, ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, will be familiar with the term ‘ABC - Always Be Closing’. For networking, we can adapt that to ABG - Always Be Generous. This means that we should be selflessly adding value to others and building our social captial. The notion is a bit fuzzy but something on the lines of ‘the more good that we push out, the more good we will recieve’ but, and here’s the rub it should not be done just to get something back.

The danger hinted at is that what if we do something for somebody just to get someting in return, then we have, in our own mind, struck a covert contract: they owe us. It is a covert contract because it is undeclared and one-sided. I would suggest that by giving with strings attached, you are squeezing the goodwill form it and lessening the value of what you have done. Meanwhile the other person will be blissfully unaware of what is going on in your head.

This may all sound a bit preachy and I don’t mean it to be so; I am only interested in what works and the fact is that if your network contacts feel that you are only doing something for them because you want something - as yet unspecified - in return, then they will not like it and any sense of goodwill evaporates immediately.

So be generous. Add value to others without expecting something in return. Be grateful for all those good things that come in your direction and that will colour you interactions. There will be no meaness or self-serving feel to you, and people will pick that up and will want to help you out even more.

In my next blog I will offer ideas about how you can use two systems of networking: systematic and event driven, which when done consistently will not take up too much time, have a great ROI and lift your game to a whole new level.