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I think this is fairly black and white. You're either networking, or acting as a paid agent, and it's up to you to decide which role you want to play. But if you're a networker, then your reward is karma.

I agree 100% with Alec. I would add that in my experience trying to cash in on the value generated through introductions as an agent is a dicey proposition that usually leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

As a consultant, I use a compensation scheme with people in my network to reward business leads. There are a few basic rules that apply. To explain them, let me take the example of person A giving a business lead to person B for customer C. A compensation can be paid by B to A only if the following conditions are met :
1 - It is a qualified lead : in other words, A detects a clear need that customer C has for services provided by B. If A just gives the name of a prospect C to B without identifying a specific need, no compensation can be paid even if a business transaction happens between B and C later on.
2 - A assists B as necessary all along the business negociations with C.
3 - A is the only person giving the lead to B. If multiple individuals give the lead, no compensation is due.
4 - The customer C has paid B. Compensations are typically paid to A only when the deal is delivered and paid.

From the little you said in your post, it looks like you are performing a "loose" networking activity that does not justify a compensation, even though it may add value.

Another big lesson I learned is: in your network, you need to give without expecting anything in return. When you do that, you will realize that people will be willing to do the same with you and may end-up giving you invaluable help beyond anything you could have dreamed of. The only point is : you don't know when it will happen or how.

After all, isn't this the nature of trusting relationships ?

I agree with Alec's point on karma building for your one time opportunities.

Anyway, if you do get paid to "bridge" and that "bridge" turns sour, do you then compensate the two parties?

As an organization that has been built on referrals and people being committed to helping each other, I strongly believe that building really effective relationships is about an attitude of giving not getting. I think that too often people in business are too worried about the WIFM and when they are, it doesn't take long for others to sense they are being used.

There is nothing wrong with selling something - we all are to one degree or another. However, the most successful people I know have grown that success because they have been "remembered & referred" They don't have one persona for business and another for their personal life, they simply have an attitude that others can sense and feel. They don't worry about what might or might not come back to them, they just help and move on.

As a friend of mine who has a very successful consulting practice says "give first and the results will follow."

Part of the problem of being in the consulting business is it is often difficult to find ways to be compensated. I know it probably seems like you are "leaving something on the table" when you introduce parties who proceed to make deals. That, however, is your stock in trade. If you want to earn something from the introduction you probably need to add to the value of the deal they produce. Can you provide capital? Employees? Design? Engineering? Software? Negotiation services? If not, you need to view these introductions as one way of building your network of dealmakers. If you're missing out on a lot of deals you may have narrow-cast your business model.

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