The topic of networking reminds me of Kyle MacDonald. Have you heard of the “Red Paperclip” story ? This is how it goes: Kyle dreamed about owning his own home and not paying a cent for it. On July 12th, 2005, when sitting at his desk and looking at a paperclip, he thought to himself, “What could I get for one red paperclip?” He offered it on Craig’s List, and found someone willing to trade a pen. After getting the pen, he trades it for a custom doorknob. From there, Kyle’s story becomes almost unbelievable. He trades for items like snowmobiles, record contracts, free rent, and more, until he finally traded his last item for his dream…a house in Saskatchewan. Watch the story here:
So, what does that have to do with networking? The principles are the same:
1. Kyle always made sure that the trade was mutually beneficial. Kyle had a recording contract. Jody Gnant aspired to become a singer, and had house. So, Kyle exchanged his recording contract for a free room. Jody’s dream came true… and Kyle was one step closer to his dream house. In networking, it’s critical to look out for the other party’s well being to truly make a connection.
2. Kyle took objects that were worthless to him, and gave them to others that found value in them. He traded an afternoon of hanging out with Alice Cooper (famous KISS rock star) for a snow globe. Who in their right mind would want a snow globe?! KISS fan and and snow globe collector Mark Herrmann! Something that was useless to Kyle meant the world to Mark. In networking, when you receive an opportunity that you don’t want, ask yourself, “who else could I help with this opportunity?”
3. Everyone has value that they can add somewhere. Who thought that a red paperclip could get a house? Halfway through this project, Kyle realized that he was making dreams come true. You, and everyone around you, have something to offer to this world. Find that place that you’re able to make a difference, and do it!
What can you do with your “red paperclip”? What else other parallels do you see between our story and networking? How can you inspire another person today?