When I was a very small pre-school boy, we used to go into town every Friday morning to meet my Nana and Auntie. We met in the massive expanse of the Woolworth’s cafe at the East End if Princes St (the site soon to be the Apple Store). The pillars were adorned with tartan and the seats seemed to stretch on forever.

After the tea/juice/cake we wandered round the vast expanse of Woolworth’s and my Nana would buy me a toy car. I had quite a lot of toy cars.

Then, one Friday, on the way out the cafe I asked my Nana for my weekly toy car. She never bought me one again.

You may see this as some sort of old school, draconian method of instruction. But there is much to be learned from Nana.

You see, the presumption of receipt exists far too much.

I remember back in those bubble days going to First Tuesday and standing amid a group of eager, wide-eyed individuals all desperate to be the next big thing. That wasn’t all they had in common. None of them were offering anything. They had all come to get their toy car.

I wasn’t there to get anything. I simply enjoyed the sport of pointing out the flaws in their ideas. Which, I suppose, is a form of help. I also drank beer.

There is a simple truth of networking and networking events in particular. People hear “networking event” and think “sales event” or “opportunity“. It can’t possibly work if everyone there is only there to get something. The basic laws of thermodynamics suggest that someone has to be providing input for the equation to balance. If no one is giving, it’s just a series of people handing out business cards and Twitter handles to each other with no one having any intention of buying, helping, giving. There may still be beer. But…

What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe you’ll get absolutely nothing back. But you’ll exit that situation with someone thinking “that’s a good guy/gal“. Isn’t that enough? On the massive upside, you might just trip over something incredible and, by giving freely with no covert agenda, you can enter it with purity of mind and intent. Allow yourself the chance to receive the gift of unexpected consequences. Network positively i.e. for other people, not for yourself.

So, what I’d like you, my reader, to consider is, in 2014 – enter every situation with an initial instinct to give and see what happens.

When I offered to help the SafeSpace Write-a-Thon I did it simply because it was a good cause and it’s nice to help. From that I got to meet and be on stage with one of my heroes. Unexpected consequences can and do happen, some of them are even pleasant. I can, and will, continue to help people as best I can with no worries about what I might get back, it’s why I give all my photos away for free ( you can download the header image here ). I may not always have time, I may not always have a clue. But my intent will always be the same.

There you go, a New Year message of sorts.