I have a lot of respect for the success that Harvey Mackay has achieved – as a matter of fact, I was proud to help promote his most recent book to my relationships. But I often see other thought leaders post comments online that I strenuously disagree with and this is one of those.


Harvey’s comment about what makes LinkedIn so important couldn’t be further from strategic relationship development best practices. In reading over 100 business books about business relationships, writing 4 of my own including the best-selling Relationship Economics Revised (Wiley, 3/11), speaking for, coaching, consulting, and mentoring global clients, I can tell you that “trading networks with someone else” is one of the WORST things you can do – on or off line. Here is why:

Strategic Relationships are Between Unique and Very Specific Individuals

Otherwise, they’re simply functional contact. If you’re only after contacts, let me suggest the yellow pages – it serves the same purpose. Trading your network with someone else is simply tossing contacts over the wall. The person you’re “trading” with doesn’t know, respect, appreciate, or value your relationships because they’re not relevant to him or her! And more importantly, vice versa. Relationships are not a stand alone concept – they’re an enabler, an enhancer, and need context to make them impactful.

Strategic Relationships are Deeply Rooted in Trust and They go Bad with Misaligned Expectations

I’ve worked my entire professional life to build my portfolio of relationships and respectfully, I’m not prostituting them to others! They trust me as a colleague, an advisor, and a discrete source of strategic relationship insights. They don’t know you, like you, trust you, or see value in connecting with you – why would I trade them to you?

Networks are Transactional; Strategic Relationships are Transformational!

Networks and networking often have a negative connotation associated with them, because most believe they’re useless exchange of business cards or favors, or people who use other people to get what they want. Conversely, relationships – true, meaningful, deeply impactful strategic relationships encapsulate three fundamental laws: gratitude, reciprocity, and forward motion. They’re an investment of time, effort and resources; not drive-by-greetings. By the way, nEtworking is one letter away from nOtworking!

In working with global teams and organizations, I continue to see many who confuse vibration with forward motion. They’re so busy trying to create relationships that they miss the boat to relationship capitalization. If you believe my notion that relationships are an investment and a life-long endeavor, would you simply trade those relationships with someone else?

You want to expand your network? Add value to every interaction, become an object of interest, and develop a systematic, disciplined process for the manner in which you identify, nurture, and in a win-win approach, leverage your strategic relationships to accelerate your ability to perform, execute, and deliver quantifiable results.

By the way, the reason LinkedIn is so important, is that it allows us to connect with an exponential (vs. incremental) portfolio of business professionals. I’ve been a LinkedIn user for the past 7-8 years and can attribute six Fortune 100 clients to it. But here is a news flash for you: it’s a tool and without a relationship-development process and value-add as your Relationship Currency, it’ll always simply be a tool.

Let me know your thoughts on “trading your network with someone else.”

To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).

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