“Networking” has a bad name among some, in large part because it is perceived as being centered on how you can exploit others. On the contrary: true networking is all about you finding out how you can help others. In Donna Fisher’s book Professional Networking For Dummies┬«, she defines networking as “people sharing and caring for one another.”

This is equally true when you are building relationships online for business purposes. It is critical to keep in mind that the true spirit of networking is based on the age-old premise that people most like doing business with people they like. With the internet, you simply now have access to more people with which to develop business relationships.

Keeping an attitude of service and kindness present in your networking interactions will attract more people to you. Networking without heart and kindness is cold, calculating, ultimately unfulfilling, and typically unproductive. Networking with heart and kindness leads to opportunities to be of service and create mutually beneficial business relationships.
Networking is not just about taking certain actions and creating certain results. It is the process of building quality relationships and experiencing the satisfaction that comes from contributing to someone else’s success.

An attitude of lovingkindness will affect the way you respond to people online and in person. Here are some ways to support others in your online business interactions, regardless of the industry of your counterparty:

  • Mentor someone who is just starting in business, or newly entering your field.
  • Help other people prepare for a major presentation by coaching them.
  • Make sure to contact people when they are in difficulty (just had a baby, just lost a job, etc.), not just when they are flying high. They will be eternally grateful, and you will prove that you are not a mere fair weather friend.
  • Give industry colleagues a “heads-up” about a news item that affects them, or co-workers a tip off about a surprise visit by upper management.
  • Do someone else’s dirty work for them, particularly when the dirty work is thankless drudgery and the person is overwhelmed.

Remember, what you put out into the world is typically what you receive back from it.