You might be working like a dog, but are you networking like one?
I get a lot of requests to network and enjoy it. It’s one of the thrilling parts of my vocation. I particularly enjoy reconnecting with folks that I haven’t seen in awhile. Yet, I’m constantly amazed at how often those requests to reconnect are on the heels of a job change. They got caught off guard and now need to find their way to a new gig. So, they fire up their network. And my phone rings.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame them for their sudden enthusiasm to network and I try to help every person I can. Yet, I can’t help thinking that they’d be so much better off if they dug their well before they were thirsty, as Harvey Mackay would say. Those who wait until they have a need are missing one of the greatest benefits of networking—serving others.
If the only time you “fire up your network” is when you need something, you send a powerful signal to others that they are not as important as you. That perception creates a liability for you and hinders your networking effectiveness. In addition to working like a dog, network like one. And I don’t mean networking hard. I mean network like you have something to give. Here are three ways:
- Offer a connection you have. The one thing that every person in business needs is a good connection. Learn your ABCs. Great sales people will tell you this stands for “always be closing.” Great networkers think always be connecting. A great networker I know recently introduced me to a firm that I now serve on the board of by following this simple principal. He simply asked if I might have an interest and offered to make a connection.
- When you meet with someone, find out what’s important to them. What made my friend’s connection so unusual? I never mentioned that I was looking for a board seat or a connection to that firm. He surmised my interest by getting to know me. You can’t possibly be of help to others if you don’t take the time to know what’s important to them.
- Never leave a meeting without asking a helpful question. What’s a helpful question? How about, “How can I help?” Great networkers are generous people. They’ve experienced the power of the network and want to extend it for others. You’ll be amazed at how many people are caught off guard by a genuine offer to help. They’ll be even more amazed, as I was with my friend, when you propose an idea because you’ve gotten to know them so well. That’s the gold standard of networking that we should all aspire to.
Dogs are portrayed as heroes for good reason. They are loyal, hardworking, and enjoyable to be around. And they look out for your interests. Learn to network like one and you’ll not only get more from your networking but you’ll be a hero to someone else too.
Encourage someone reading this post by leaving a comment: What networking principles do you find effective?