I collect people these days (have been for 20+ years of my entrepreneurship), just like I did baseball cards in my youth.

I keep the best.

As a kid, I curated the cards, rubber-banded, in a few cigar boxes (old school) and pulled out the ones I no longer favored to trade and reshuffled the rest to bring the best to the front of the stack.

Fast forward 60+ years later, in our pandemic electronic age, I belong to a few networking groups. I shake them up from time to time when I get restless. Keep the best, and nurture them.

OK, I admit, not all my networking groups are alike. In fact, it’s the leader and the members who that make the group outstanding for one reason, or a few. Just like my favorite team or division or qualitative groupings of baseball cards, each individual networking group excels on its own merits, ranked within by the particular grouping(s) in my collection.

Today I try out and select the professional networking groups to participate in, based on a few subjective factors: membership demographics, interactive conversation frequency, my learning opportunities, my early perceptions, and for my most critical criterion, the quality of the leading members: all of whom nurture me and me them (yes, it’s a 2-way street).

I have been asked in the past what I do when I perceive a referral opportunity: having so many {fill in the blank here for the job classification}s to select from, how do I choose the right one(s) to refer?

It’s easy, really. Though it’s uneven, I admit.

The person I refer must “ping” on my memory radar screen at the top of my mind: trusted, reliable, intelligent, leader, thought maven(s) in their field. The personality of one ought to fit with the other. In sum, both parties earned the referral I am brokering.

And they get to be referred again based on the excellent work in the last instance.

It should come as no surprise, all my introductory referrals are communicated via LinkedIn.

I know you folks reading here are following, connected to, and working with, other LinkedIn coaches and trainers, other LinkedIn thought leaders, other LinkedIn marketing strategists. And I do not expect to be freely referred to everyone you come across with a rousing “ya gotta talk to Marc,” unless you really want to say that, if you never tried me, heard me, or asked my advice, but please do refer me because I made the commitment to you and hopefully earned it.

If you know me, I am not one to sit quietly in an networking session, rather I try to add my high-octane value everywhere I go.

I hold an “Ask Me Anything” session for one of the groups every Thursday. Yet with the hundreds of them in the network, only a handful of “groupies” come to learn each week. Their gain, as they tell me.

When I offer a LinkedIn presentation on my group calendars every few months, it’s free advice for you that I charge others for, in my effort to give back and offer you the latest LinkedIn techniques. Then I open it up for Q&A at the end to “pick my brain.” I am always pleased to get to the heart of what you need to know to harness LinkedIn as a brand marketing power tool well.

I return to the group meeting by zoom, or hopefully soon in person, whenever my schedule allows to root on my close colleagues in their presentations, learn and listen to them so I can refer them–because they earned it, and in turn they refer me.

For all the above, I am grateful for the excellence I have found among my networking group members. You know who you are. I value your help.

I will continuously seek to add more cross-networking colleagues too.

That’s all. Just thank you.