How much time do you spend meeting people? How much time do you spend building on relationships that you have established? What do you expect from those relationships? Will they help you? Do you only build relationships with people you think will help you?
Networking is often viewed as a great way to build a professional reputation, to add to your client base or to open doors to meet new recruiters. It is really hard to draw a straight line correlation between networking efforts and return on those efforts, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, because if you are “networking” purely for your own gain, then likely you will fail.
Here is a selfless approach to networking:
- Go to events where you will meet new people, otherwise you’re just hanging out with old friends and nobody’s benefiting. This doesn’t mean ditching your friends completely, but make sure it’s not only your friends.
- Depending on your trade, networking opportunities can be hard to find, so take some initiative and find new events, rather than waiting for somebody send you an invitation. If you want to build a niche network, you may even need to start your own networking group.
- Networking with the intent of “taking” is very transparent. Most people won’t retain “takers” in their network (as a side note, you should also avoid these folks).
- Help others because it will ultimately come back, but do it because want to, not because you want to get something back.
- Avoid abusing your network. Refrain from giving names out to people you don’t know, and genuinely get to know someone before asking for names of their contacts.
- If you believe that an introduction will benefit someone you know then make that introduction.
- Network with people who you think are interesting, otherwise it’s just boring for everybody.
There are many rewards to networking but if you don’t treat your network properly, you’ll never get to reap those rewards. Do you have any other tips for selfless networking? Have you ever encountered a selfish networker? Tell us your stories in the comments below.