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Give to Get

by Randall Craig on March 20, 2007

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Networking

Tagged as: , ,

What goes through your mind when you get an unsolicited call from someone you met at an event several years ago? Typically, they ask you for something: an informational interview, a sales pitch, or perhaps an introduction to a third party. You think: Who is this person? Why are they interrupting me? How can I hang up as quickly as I can?

The hapless person who is making the call is looking to get something for nothing, and hoping that out of sympathy, or maybe out of civic-mindedness, that you will make time for them. Unfortunately, they didn’t learn the most important rule of networking: you have to give to get.

If we go back several years to the event where the introduction took place, the path could have been a very different one. During the event itself, they could have asked you questions about your interests. Then after the event itself, they could have started building a relationship by periodically sending you things that mattered to you. (These could be as simple as news clippings or industry information.) Over the next year, the relationship might be deepened by a conversation or two at other events. And only then, when they have earned the right to ask for your help, would you gladly give it.

The next time you are looking to “get” ask yourself a simple question: what gives me the right to ask for their help? Or, how have I invested in the relationship? If you don’t make a deposit in the relationship bank, it is unreasonable to expect a withdrawal.  Focus on the Give, not the Get.

This week’s action item: Identify those in your network where you have not made a recent “deposit”, then resolve to fix the situation: find one thing that you can do for each of them this week. If you want their help sometime later, you have to give to get.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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