Think back to the last networking event you attended. Did you look for people who could help you, or did you look for people you could help?
Networking is often stereotyped as a way to find people to help you, but why not focus your efforts on giving, without any expectation of reciprocation, during future networking interactions?
You may spend time doing a little networking daily, be it on social media platforms or in a face-to-face context such as a business conference. It’s essential to be meeting new people in order to keep your business and career strong and growing. But do you network in the most effective way?
Include these three things in future networking interactions and you’ll make better connections with those that you meet, both on and off-line.
The Three Things You Must Do
1. Give Advice
When you first meet someone get to know a little about them. As the conversation progresses, find out what their business is about. Then start thinking of ways that you can help them and make a suggestion of a specific action or two that you can do for them. Show that you are interested in them and their work. Later they may find a way to help you – or they may not. And that’s fine.
2. Connect Them to Others
A powerful way to help is by connecting people. Helping people will make you well known among your circle of colleagues, acquaintances and friends. Your social circle will see you as an excellent resource — a person who is constantly making connections between others as a way to broaden the business and social networks of those around you.
3. Follow Up
Once you make a connection, make sure to keep their business card and follow up with them. Call to ask if your advice was helpful. Send them a book or article related to their work that they would find useful. Ask them to lunch to continue your first conversation and see what else you can help them with.
These three actions work for any kind of networking–finding business partners, mentors, or investors. Try it the next time you have an opportunity and you’ll find that it feels good to be giving to others. Soon you’ll find that the goodwill will come back to you, often many times over.