Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Need for Greed

One of the key underlying principles of networking is the mantra introduced by Dr. Ivan Misner across BNI Groups worldwide. The principle of 'Givers Gain' dictates that you must be focused on giving to your network first and the rewards will follow and it is one that I agree with.

Sometimes, however, it's possible to go too far.

A good friend of mine is a case in point. He has a tremendous reputation for his generosity. He is always looking to help others and goes out of his way to be amenable. This is despite the fact that his own business is struggling and he really needs to focus on his needs first. He said to me recently that if he doesn't win more business in the next month he may have to find employment and shelve his company.

It is possible that his amenability is a actually a cause of his own struggle. My friend is so focused on seeking opportunities to help other people he forgets to ask for help for himself, or doesn't recognise opportunities for himself when they come along.

Last week I said to him that I was going to introduce someone who could be very helpful in opening some important doors for his business. As soon as I described some of the projects this contact was working on, my friend began to list who he knew who could help on those projects.

"That's tremendous", I said. "But this is a connection for you and your business. You need to focus on that initially, don't lose the opportunity.

"I know you're right", he said. "But I'm not greedy."

"You've spend the last twelve years not being greedy. Maybe that's one reason you're so needy".

My friend has been so focused over the years on helping other people, not only has he not asked for the help he needs, when a new introduction has come his way he has been more focused on who else could benefit from the new contact than focus on his own needs.

He has a bank of people who he has helped and who would love to help him, but he doesn't feel comfortable asking for their help. As a result, they cannot recognise the right opportunities for him and he is struggling.

Givers Gain works on the understanding that your network will want to help you if you continue to help them. That only works, however, if they understand how to help you and if you accept that help when it comes your way.

It's fine not to be greedy, but not to the extent it leaves you needy.


  1. Andy, Fantastic post and one that is very close to home for me. I have definitely fallen into the category over the years that I have been in business.

    Thanks again for a great and thought provoking post

  2. Thanks for your comment Simon, I'm glad the post has resonated.

    We can all fall foul of this trap, it's good to just keep focused on why we are networking in the first place.

  3. Some people's minds move into a space I call "network overdrive" and with detrimental effect to that person. Keen to demonstrate their value to others through the quality of their networking, they neglect to consider where they stand to benefit in money terms. Kudos, cred and brownie points never paid the bills.

  4. Theresa Summers5:30 am

    I wonder if the following thought could get through to him - he clearly gains enjoyment from helping others, so the kindest thing he could do is allow others to gain enjoyment from helping him!

    He really would be helping them by taking their help.