In the summer of 2005, Kyle MacDonald shared on the Internet that he was attempting to own a house by trading up from his starting position –a red paper clip. Immediately he traded the paper clip for a fish-shaped pen.
Another person saw more value in the pen than in the handmade doorknob he had. And similar logic followed as the doorknob was exchanged for a camp stove, followed by a 100-watt generator, then a Budweiser sign, which ultimately garnered a snowmobile.
From here, MacDonald secured an afternoon with rock star Alice Cooper, which he traded for a KISS snow globe, which converted into a paid movie role. Finally, someone offered a farmhouse in exchange for the movie role.
This is a wonderful metaphor for networking. The things you offer up to your network have more value in the hands of others. And what you get in return has a whole lot more value to you. In short, networking arithmetic is a whole different breed of math.
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