Networking: It’s not what you get, it’s what you give

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 in Professional Development | 28 comments

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.

networking basics- get to give

 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:

  • expertise
  • know-how
  • training
  • referrals
  • references
  • feedback
  • shareable content
  • job leads
  • client leads
  • partnership opportunities
  • contact names
  • introductions
  • time
  • help
  • support
  • friendship
  • compliments
  • 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

28 Comments

  1. Thanks Chrysta,
    for a genuine and inspiring article. You are correct. Networking is all about creating meaningful relationships through a community of people who live and work from a higher plain of interaction call contribution. You cannot give to someone else, without ultimately giving to yourself because what we give comes back multiplied.

    I am the founder of The Heart Link Network, women only networking built on what I call the four-wins. In any interaction you should feel like you have received something valuable, I should feel as though I have either given or received something valuable, our community as a whole needs to benefit and the actions should make God smile. If we can meet those 4 criteria, everyone wins. Thank you.
    Dawn Billings, CEO and Founder of The Heart Link Women’s Network with over 200 locations in US, Canada and Australia http://www.theheartlinknetwork.com

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Dawn!

      I’m so glad you stopped by and thanks for telling me more about The Heart Link Network. Networking is so important for growth and development- especially for women. Community is what connects us, and allows us to make progress as a whole.

      Thanks again for stopping by! I look forward to checking out The Heart Link Network. Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. This was an excellent post on networking Chrysta. I loved what you said earlier in your post about successful people being good at seeking help, and not because they are too good to need it! This is very true.

    It’s always good to give first. It feels good, and let’s face it, most decent people reciprocate. Going with a “I want to help you” attitude, is far better than a “what can you do for me?” one. People can usually smell the latter a mile away.
    Hiten recently posted…How limiting beliefs can prevent people from succeedingMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Hiten!

      I was fortunate to learn early on that successful people are successful because they have help, not because they don’t need it. It’s good for me to keep this in mind when I start to get off track thinking I can do it all myself- I can’t! I need help, too.

      I agree it feels good to give to others. I feel useful, helpful, productive, and connected! I also agree most decent people will want to reciprocate.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. Chrysta, aloha. So glad to see you included Winston Churchill’s quote which is one of my all time favorites. Perfect definition for networking and life.

    Chrysta, as a visual, I think of networking as a weaving together of threads. How you weave them determines the pattern. Some may be only on the business side while others may overlap or indeed jump back and forth among business, personal, social, hobby and interests.

    We weave the fabric of our lives and its richness is enhance by relationships.

    Your list is terrific to help people realize that each and everyone of us have much to offer another. The key is to listen and to hear what the people are saying rather than merely biding your time until you can jump in with your comments. The more effectively people listen, the more they will have to offer another.

    If people network (in person or online) with the attitude of meeting and connecting with people, sharing ideas and resources, building relationships rather than “closing the deal” then mutually beneficial or satisfying relationships are likely to develop.

    While we make like to think that “everyone is our customer” that simply isn’t so. No matter the product or service a person offers, some people will always prefer the competitor’s. Though everyone may not be “our customer,’ everyone knows someone who could be our customer. Thus, if we build relationships rather than focusing on self-interests, we may one day be introduced to or referred to that friend who then becomes our customer.

    What a terrific job you did on this important topic, Chrysta. Thank you. Until next time, aloha. Janet
    Janet Callaway recently posted…2 Reasons to Turn the Other CheekMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Janet! I absolutely love what you’ve added to the conversation!

      I love that you mentioned the importance of listening- this is such a useful skill! When we can truly hear what someone has to share, we have the opportunity to nurture a lasting relationship with them, and possibly even learn something about ourselves.

      I also love what you shared about building relationships with everyone, rather than focusing on self-interests. Relationships give back to us in all kinds of ways, and we may never know what a relationship has to offer if we approach another person only with concern for our own interests.

      I’ve seen this concept play out when a job candidate interviews with a company. How a candidate treats the receptionist and other people in the building may have a greater impact than their actual interview. It’s amazing how far being kind will get you, and you never know who you’re being rude to, and who they might know.

      Thanks again for your wonderful feedback! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. Give, give, give! You got it!

    If we all started out the week, the day, our business with that model, we would all have much more success. When we give, naturally things will start to flow our way. Friends, relationships, money – you name it.

    When we start by taking, everything changes.

    Great reminder!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Brock!

      I enthusiastically agree that whatever we give comes back to us, and more! When we’re down-and-out or just starting out it can be deceiving to think that we need help more than we need to help others. It’s easier to think about giving when we aren’t wanting, but we must start with giving to get what we’re wanting.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have an awesome day!

      Chrysta

  5. Hi Chrysta!

    Great explanation of what it means to network.

    I was certainly like you when I started in the blogosphere. It was a little scary and overwhelming at first.

    I had an idea of what networking was, and I didn’t know what I had to offer others either.

    You’re right though, we each have so much to offer one another. It’s all a matter of figuring out what individuals need and fulfilling that need if at all possible. If a person is unable to fulfill the need personally, then there’s always finding it out or directing the individual to someone who is better experienced in supplying that specific need.

    I think we learn things about ourselves in networking also. We learn how much experience we really have in various areas. We learn this because we are constantly exercising our minds in different ways; sometimes in ways that we would not normally have direct access in doing.

    Great topic choice, Chrysta! I enjoyed this article because it has shun a light on the true meaning of networking… giving.
    Deeone recently posted…Know the truth: Does it Set Us Free or Keep Us Controlled?My Profile

    • Thank you for your awesome comment, Deeone!

      I love that you mentioned referring to someone else when we can’t help someone personally, and this is one of the easiest ways to give to your network! I am not able to help everyone with everything, but chances are I know someone that can help, or refer to someone else in their network. It’s a true example of how we are all interconnected.

      I have learned a lot about myself networking, too. Discovering what I have to give has increased my confidence and helped me clarify my blog niche. I had been considering starting a blog for some time and didn’t pick a topic until multiple people told me how much they appreciated my insight and guidance on work-life balance, personal development, and career management. I realized my personal experience was valuable to others and decided to write about it!

      Thanks for joining the conversation! I love what you had to add!

      Chrysta

  6. Second try….something went haywire with the first. Gotta love the iPad?! Or is that my typing?!!
    Cris recently posted…Being a Pollyanna…and Glad about it.My Profile

  7. Great post! This was a nice reminder for me that the term “networking” shouldn’t be used for just blogging, etc. but rather Networking encompasses so many facets of life…viral as well as personal F-to-F connections.
    I strive to be a giver in my daily life, be it work or social associations, with the intention of the “pay it forward” mindset. I am really turned off by those who “reach out” to others only to discover it was for a means to garner something for themselves.
    I really appreciated your “list.” How often we can succumb to the feelings of inadequacy when extending ourselves….seeing others as being far more capable…likable…than we give ourselves credit. Making a list is a good tool to use when those feelings cloud our course of direction and service. Yet, something as simple as a smile, and/or inquiry of needing assistance (with an open ear) is powerful. I am glad you put that on your list! Good reminder for us all.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Cris!

      Networking happens everywhere we go, even if we don’t call it networking. I loved Karin Conway’s definition of networking because it truly shows how networking happens any time people come together and work together for mutual benefit, whether that benefit happens now or later.

      Now that you mention it, I prefer the concept of paying it forward to the term giving because I believe it’s possible to give more than we have to give, and this creates imbalance. Paying it forward, however, implies we give what we have already received. I truly believe that when we give what we have received, the value of what we give comes back to us all over again.

      Everyone has something to offer, and I like your idea of keeping a list of what we have to give so that we’re prepared to offer our help when needed. A smile, a blog comment, even a friendly chat over coffee can have great value in times of need.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have a great day!

      Chrysta

  8. Hi Chrysta,

    Awesome post which I thoroughly enjoyed reading!

    Networking as you describe is so simple as long as one can make the mindset shift, focusing on what I can give rather than on what I can get.

    It demands that I lose the attachment to self and take a genuine and deliberate interest in others for no other reason than interest sake.

    My focus is on how I can be of service; on how I can uplift others and where possible and appropriate on how I can create some relief / ease for them.

    The great thing about networking is that it does also provide a platform for me to affirm that I have plenty to give others no matter what the context.

    ~Marcus
    Marcus Baker recently posted…How to do Loving Kindness MeditationMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Marcus!

      I love that you mentioned losing the attachment to self as that is key to nurturing my well-being in all my relationships. I must take care of myself, of course, but putting my needs above all others isn’t attending to my needs at all. It’s not an issue of selfishness, it’s about failing to recognize my interdependence with the world around me and how I can positively or negatively interact with that world.

      Focusing on being of service is a great perspective to have as it allows me to use my skills and talents, learn new skills, and actively participate in something bigger than myself.

      When I walked in to my first networking event, I really had no idea what networking was about. I didn’t think I’d walk in and someone would give me a job, but I didn’t realize I had anything to give- how wrong I was! As you mentioned, networking can be a great way to build confidence and remind me that I have something valuable to share with others.

      Thank you for joining the conversation! I love what you contributed!

      Chrysta

  9. Chrysta, thanks for the quote and link to my blog. I’m honored that you used my definition of networking. I see that you have some great content and will use some of yours for my future posts and book. Make it a great day!
    :-) Karin Conway
    Karin Conway recently posted…Milwaukee Networking Opportunities Jan 30 2012My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Karin!

      I really loved your post about networking and was happy to link it! I look forward to keeping up with your blog in the future.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  10. Hey Chrysta!

    For me networking can be anything from talking to your neighbor to building a strong online community. But like everything networking involves effort. But we get busy to build the online network that we miss out on the networking at home. Do we really know whether are neighbors, our colleagues, our friends are doing well. or do we see a smiley on their Facebook status and content? ;)

    There isn’t a lot of effort needed to network, you just have to get out there and be genuine concerned. Not all networking is for your own benefit; if you want help, you have got to give it too!

    Loved the post Chrysta!

    Sorry for dropping by late! Busy weekend! :)
    Hajra recently posted…Will they call you over for a bloggers party?My Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Hajra!

      I agree completely that networking happens in every relationship we nurture and grow. Being genuinely interested what is going on with other people is a great way to build a relationship, and discover what we have to offer others, and what they might have to offer us.

      Networking is all about relationships, and it happens all around us if we put in a little effort.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have a great day!

      Chrysta

  11. Chrysta,
    I’m just back home from a conference last week – a great place to put these ideas into action!

    I love to start connections by getting to some common bond we have. For me, that feels more personal. Once that has been established, offering support to someone else is such a great way to build a relationship. And – when that’s done from a place of care (as opposed to thinking “what’s in it for me” only), meaningful relationships develop.

    And from this – I’ve found that these are people I can reach out to, if there’s something I need – well into the future (and likewise – them reaching out to me, too).

    Love this!! Our relationships are such a big part of this life we live..
    Lance recently posted…Love Will Keep Us TogetherMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Lance! I’m headed off to a blogging conference in a few weeks and I’ve been thinking a lot about networking and building positive relationships.

      I love your suggestion to start by establishing a common bond. When we can relate to others it’s easier to form a strong connection and build a valuable relationship. Building a relationship is important for networking because the “what’s in it for me” mindset is often expressed when one side isn’t invested in the exchange. In most relationships, both parties are invested in a mutually beneficial outcome.

      I love what you’ve added to this conversation! Thanks for sharing your insight!

      Chrysta

  12. that was a very useful post Chrysta
    thank you for writing it :)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post and thanks for commenting to say so, Farouk! Have a great day!

      Chrysta

  13. Great post, and super timely for many of us attending blog conferences!

    Your “Bob story” made me laugh, partly because I’ve experienced such relationships. I know we can be eager to fulfill our goals, but in order to do so successfully, long-term, it is important to actually have a mutually beneficial relationship.

    I also like the point about successful people getting help from others. Sometimes it can feel as if you have to carry it all on your shoulders, and if you fail, you’re a big failure. Well, that’s not life. Life is a community of people helping each other be the best they can be.

    Thanks for listing the variety of ways we can help someone else. Many times I feel as if I don’t have anything of value to offer another person, but I guess that really isn’t the case. I guess that’s also why it’s important to spend time developing quality relationships instead of just trying to build an expansive network fast. The latter way leaves you depleted of any quality to give to others.

    Have a great weekend!
    Tiffany recently posted…Sweet Critique: Princess RecoveryMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Tiffany!

      I agree it sometimes feels as if it’s all on my shoulders, but the truth is even the most successful people had help along the way. We can do so much more when we’re surrounded by a supportive, give-and-take community than we can ever hope to accomplish alone.

      I love what you wrote about spending time developing quality relationships instead of trying to build an expansive network fast. I get depleted anytime I spread myself too thin, and I feel empowered and engergized when I am supported by fewer quality relationships. Over time my network has grown into a larger community of mutually supportive contacts, and still I find it is only those relationships I make an effort to maintain that continue to provide value.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation! I loved what you had to say.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  14. Chrysta,

    Excellent points on networking! I find that the best thing to give is a listening ear.

    I agree that starting out with “here is what I can do for you…,” or some other flavor of that statement, is a point in time when I just want to get away from that person. However, when you ask questions and listen to their story, you gain more insights and begin to develop a basis for a two-way relationship.

    It is important, too, that the other person reciprocate when this happens, meaning ask the other person questions, too, and learn their story.

    Again, it is give-and-take listening.

    Thanks for contributing to networking best practices!

    Jon
    Jon Mertz recently posted…Hope Depends on ConnectionMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jon!

      I have enjoyed my best life experience when I focus on what I can give instead of approaching new situations and relationships expecting my take. This applies to networking, as well as most other areas of life.

      Of course I agree any positive relationship needs give-and-take to be successful. Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation with a new contact, and if they do not have any questions in return, perhaps it’s time to move on and engage someone new! Networking and business success is built on community and mutual benefit.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day! :)

      Chrysta

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