There are three types of relationship builders: givers, takers, and investors. Which one are you? If I asked three to five people who know you, which one would they say you are?

Like many of you, I’m busy with a number of strategic initiatives. When I was asked last fall to speak at the National Speakers Association (NSA) convention this month in Phoenix, Arizona – pro bono, to a conference full of fellow speakers, although honored and agreed, I didn’t see much value in it.

When the convention planners called back and asked if I’d also do a concurrent session, create a Web 2.0 track (to which I invited Mark Sylvester, CEO of introNetworks and Joel Comm, author of Twitter Power), and subsequently put on computer labs where participants could get hands-on help with their social networking presence, although I felt that my generosity was getting not just used, but abused, I agreed.

I paid for my own travel, paid to attend the conference, and worked my tail off putting on six (6) sessions over 3 days. When savvy business colleagues ask “why on earth would you do that?” my response is a simple one: because none of us get there alone! NSA members such as Rob “Waldo” Waldman, Ken Futch, Jean Houston-Shore, Scott Friedman – have all been kind to me over the years. This was simply a way to give a little back.

Beyond the above ground economy that we all experience, there is a very real and thriving underground relationship economy – one that unfortunately, many are clueless to. In the relationship economy, there are no official transaction logs – yet memories of true investments last a lifetime. There are no hard currencies exchanged – yet the intangible relationship currency has more clout and real impact than any sum of money. There are no audits – yet those who only take will not survive much less prosper.

If you planned the NSA Convention or attended it and benefited from those who gave their expertise freely, openly, genuinely, and unselfishly, how will you reciprocate that return on their relationship investment?

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