The Networker vs. The Opportunist
During your professional life, whether you are employed by someone else or if you are a business owner you will meet people along the way that are in your field and industry. This is usually thought to be a profitable experience for all parties involved!
Be careful! In many cases this can be very lucrative and beneficial for both parties, but there is also the potential for it to be very time consuming and toxic for one party. The ideal situation is a meeting of brilliant minds! You meet and come up with fabulous ideas to work on together that are beneficial for both of you, you are able to refer each other to other great opportunities, and it is just a continuous wheel of positivity.
Meeting the Networker is positive but then there are the Opportunist or the Absorber as I like to refer to them. This person is tricky and you must be careful when dealing with this type of person. They are very nice, always pleasant but very seldom bring something enhancing to the relationship. For example: let’s say that you talk to someone who is working on a similar project as you and as you talk it appears that you are in the same place so you decide to meet over coffee and discuss the possibility of working together. So you get there and you’re talking and instead of it being a conversation it turns into a question and answer session. You are being milked for information! For some this may be ok, but for most who spent hours and days researching information they am not about to give it all to you for free.
It is not being said that either person is better than the other but you have to decide who you are comfortable working with. For those who are new business owners fighting the good fight, many times you want to help that next person so that they don’t have to go through some of the struggles that you did and that is great but there are times when people are out for your intellectual property. They see that you have accomplished so much on your own and worked so hard and they don’t want to put that same time. It has even been discovered in some cases where the one party hasn’t even started the project! Your project looks cool and profitable and they want to do what you are doing. This is why it is so important to be careful who you divulge information to, because when working with an Opportunist or Absorber you could very well wake up one day and see your idea presented under their name.
By all means go forth and network but make sure you are protective of your mind and your skills. Everyone isn’t who they initial appear to be. It may be a true exchange of services or it may be a lot of your energy spent. Make sure this is an exchange. Don’t provide anything for free when not receiving a benefit. It’s easy to get caught up in giving and never receiving. Sometimes the only receipt is support and if that’s okay with you, great.
Be very careful because many people confuse the Networker and the Absorber. In a healthy networking relationship many ideas are exchanged and this person can be great to talk to because you are in a similar struggle.