Imagine a stranger approaches you and says, “Hi, my name is Bob and here’s what you can do for me!” If you’re anything like me the last thing you would want to do is give Bob anything, let alone a few minutes of your time. When it comes to networking, don’t be Bob.
Networking works when you give. The first thing I learned at NoCoNet is that you build your network by giving.
What is networking, really?
I love this definition of networking by Karin Conway, networking is the art of building your sphere of influence through deliberate attempts to connect to other humans and display a definite purpose of helping others.
Networking is valuable for creating connections to forge partnerships and share knowledge and information. Successful people are successful by getting lots of help, not because they are too good to need it. If you want to be successful, you need a network, too.
How does networking work?
What your network looks like, and how you use it, depends on your business and your goals.
A job seeker’s network is his or her family, friends, former co-workers, college alumni, past or present club members, and recruiters. This network can provide job leads, key contact names, references, and more.
A business person’s network is his or her professional peers and leaders in the same field or industry. This network refers clients, shares best practices, offers advice, and other information.
Bloggers often refer to their network as a community. A blogger’s network are the other bloggers in their niche that leave comments, share content, exchange guest posts, and build friendships.
Your network can be any and all of these things, and can support you in a variety of ways.
What do I have to give my network?
When I walked into my first networking event, I was anxious and overwhelmed. I needed help- and lots of it- but didn’t know what I had to give. As it turns out, I have lots to give, such as:
- shareable content
- job leads
- client leads
- partnership opportunities
- contact names
- a smile
Instead of asking for something from your network, start by offering to give.
Everybody knows how to do something, so get out there and do! Be on a committee, or take on a volunteer position.
Offer to proofread a resume or critique a pitch. Leave a comment on a blog, or share content on social media.
Make a new friend. Smile! Introduce yourself to someone standing alone, and then introduce them to someone else you already know.
It’s easy to give, and giving soon gives back to you, and that’s how networking works. If you want to live a great life, and you want to be successful in life, start by giving instead of taking.
The greatest part about giving is the sense of confidence, purpose, accomplishment you’ll get when you contribute and participate in something bigger than you. You’ll get more by giving, and you’ll get farther than Bob.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchil
I love your comments! How do you give to your network? What does giving mean to you?
Image courtesy of BlueEyedA73