As some of you know I recently published a chapter in a multi-author book entitled “Make Your Connections Count.” It was a rewarding experience; I learned a great deal about managing to deadline, working with publishers and about never-ending book promotion that will no doubt come in handy as I prepare to publish my first full length business book on social networking (any day now.)

Being part of this publishing project also afforded me the opportunity to talk to other people about how they manage their connections… what tips, time management tricks or best practices they have developed for growing and nurturing their own personal network.

I wanted to take a minute and share with you a note I received from Michelle. She heard me speak earlier this summer and we stayed connected via LinkedIn. When my book came out she wrote to me not out of self-interest, but on behalf of  her teenage son, that she may teach him the importance of caring for his connections as he grew into manhood.

It made me pause and reflect on where I learned the fundamentals of networking. Credit first goes to my parents – caring, giving and generous people who even when they had nothing, went out of their way to help others in need. I was the first of my family to go to college and it wasn’t until my first corporate job  that I fully realized the importance of having a strong professional network. Oh if I could go back in time and do it again… Alas I learned the hard way, one handshake, one blunder and one business card at a time.

Both of my parents are gone now but the lessons they taught me about giving of yourself still play a significant part in how I lead my life today. I wanted to share Michelle’s note with you so in the hopes that it causes you to pause too…

I started a business book collection for my son when he was born (16 years ago) and I have amassed quite the eclectic collection (only those whom I have personally met and interacted with). I have requested very personalized autographs from each based on the message of the book and the author. I hope once he is an adult he will be able to appreciate the wisdom and value of the collection. So my request is:

To Jake,

Your connections are the greatest asset that you have in life. Please treat each connection with the respect they deserve and offer some of your gifts to them – networking is what makes the world go round!

How do you teach the people around you to be a great networker… to give of themselves so that others may benefit? You lead by example: One handshake, one business card and quite possibly, one paperback at a time.