One of the greatest examples of networking I ever experienced came from someone I really admired: Bob Bolen.Bolen, the longest-serving mayor in the history of Fort Worth, passed away this week at the age of 87. Among his many accomplishments, he brought Alliance Airport to Fort Worth (a freight-only transportation hub that has become an integral part of the North Texas economy) and was responsible in large part for the creation of DFW Airport. Beloved by many, Bolen served as Fort Worth mayor for 11 years, and spent his “retirement” in service to Texas Christian University.
I knew Bob from my time as a graduate student at TCU. From time to time, we would receive a classroom visit from the former mayor of Fort Worth, on staff at TCU as an advisor to the Business School, and later, to the Chancellor of the University. Beneath his humble charm was a level of insight and wisdom that consistently drew people to his ideas.
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Bolen operated a Hallmark store and sold greeting cards early on in his professional career. His stories of the true meaning of networking and customer service, from a bygone era, still resonate with me to this day.
His mantra, from his days as a child in the Depression, applied to any situation, any circumstance, and any interaction. His guiding principle? To “always leave it a little better than you found it.”
When you think about it, we all have the opportunity to leave things better, because of our impact or influence. Now, you may not lead a city or develop multi-billion dollar civic projects, but you still have the opportunity, every day, to make a difference in your network – in the lives of others. You have the opportunity to make someone or something better, because of your presence.
Don’t miss that networking opportunity.
That’s perhaps the greatest networking experience you can offer – making the connections that matter, and then creating an environment that gets better when you arrive. Networking in social media has changed the distribution method, but not the meaning, of powerful personal connections.
As I reflect on the legacy and the passing of Bob Bolen, I think that we can all benefit from his strategy. For your company, your comrades and your next conversation: take a lesson from the Mayor, and leave it a little better than you found it.
Main image used under creative commons – some rights reserved by mckinney75402.