The #1 Rule of Networking: Give Before You Take
Many people struggle with the networking element of career development and management. Some say they don’t know how to use networking sites like LinkedIn or that they don’t see the value in attending networking events. Others feel uncomfortable using social media to build meaningful connections. The truth is that there’s one central rule of networking and it’s simpler than you think: Give before you take.
Do Practice Mutually Beneficial Networking
I have a professional connection I met via an industry organization who’s been an active part of my network and has remained in touch about career services matters. For instance, whenever she finds a news article that might be of interest to me, she emails it to me. She’s also introduced me to several industry professionals who have become valued partners. There have been a number of times she’s added value to my career before ever asking anything in return. As a result, I’ve been more than happy to return the favor, providing my expertise and support without hesitation. I’ve also paid it forward to other colleagues in my network.
Don’t be THAT Person
Let’s face it; everybody knows someone who only reaches out when they need something. You know the person. They need you to fix their computer. They need to borrow your car. You dread when you see their name pop up in your email or on your caller ID because you feel a sense of duty to help, but you don’t really see the value in the connection. It’s a tough situation. Don’t be that person. Be willing to give before you take and don’t take advantage of people in your network (personal or professional) without providing value in return.
Research shows that an overwhelming number of jobs are filled through personal connections and referrals. That’s why building a strong, meaningful, mutually beneficial network is critical. Give before you take is a good rule of thumb when networking (and for life in general, of course). Your ability to provide value before asking anything in return is a core tenant of effective networking, whether you’re looking for a job, hunting for sales leads, asking for advice, or pursuing professional development opportunities.
Get out there and network, and remember to give before you take!