It’s so easy to get caught up in an online search. You begin with one topic and soon you’re submerged in many more. Sometimes it may even take a while to get back to your original topic because of all of the other connections you made along the way.

This process has many similar elements to those of a networking process. You begin by meeting one person, physically or virtually, and you have the potential to reach many others. It is more work, however, than just a new tab or a click on a link, but it can produce fruitful results. Take LinkedIn for example, it is based on the concept of the six degrees of separation – remember Kevin Bacon? You’re interested in working for a specific company, so you look to see if you know anyone within the company. You don’t, but someone you know knows someone there (a second connection to you). You ask for an invitation to meet that person and now you have a direct connection into the company you’d like to pursue.

Life works this way too. With all of the social media and technology tools available, it’s really easy to have lots of “friends” or “connections” or “followers.” But, there is still great value in taking the time and making real live associations with people who can add value to your life.

DriverLet’s put a bit of a spin on this concept. You search out information and people to help you solve problems in your world. What if you focused on finding people you could help with your talent, knowledge, experience? You become the offense that can help another “score”- so to speak. Or while driving, instead of looking forward for what you need, you look in the rearview mirror for what other drivers need from you.

What if you looked for people who were seeking out positions in your industry or people who had questions related to your experience or people who wanted to learn more about your role? It’s not a whole lot different than what you are already well practiced at doing. But, instead of being a receiver, you become a giver. And if you handle it well, you become a receiver too.

Think about this. If you dedicate some time to finding those in need of your talents, won’t they be amazed?! Instead of asking for something, you’re offering something. And what you offer has value and you’ll share it right away. Now you’ve created “raving fans” of your personal brand and they will certainly look for ways to pay you back. It’s human nature.

Try a few of these ideas:
1. Find a job opening in your company and share it with others. Use LinkedIn to find new people you don’t know who would be qualified.
2. Tweet a specific article that would be helpful to someone who follows you, but you’ve never connected with.
3. Share a community event (one that you’re not trying to specifically promote for your personal reasons) with your friends on Facebook.
4. Invite a person you don’t know to a networking event as your guest.
5. Find a student or recent graduate in your field and invite them in for an informational interview.
6. Research a group that could benefit from your knowledge, and ask them to invite you as a guest speaker.

I love the saying…to give is to receive. And in these situations the receiving is pure, because your motive is self-less. Your eyes will be opened to new experiences and new people as a result.