How Can I Help YOU? Why Networking Starts With Helping Others
Networking is networking is networking – whether it’s on social media or at your weekly business breakfast meeting. And regardless of the platform or venue, the rules are the same: it starts with helping other people FIRST.
One of the very first people I met when I started my first business over a decade ago was Master Networker, Craig Elias. He gave me the simple advice that networking was all about helping other people achieve THEIR objectives.
With that advice, he introduced me to two of his personal contacts. To this day, he says for the cost of a latte, he will sit down with anyone and do the same for them. Needless to say, whenever Craig needs help with anything, he has plenty of willing volunteers.
How to Start Your Networking by Helping Others
Get Active – Either online or in person. Be the go-to person whenever people need help. One of the ways to generate activity in your network is to be viewed as the person who connects other people. People automatically look to connectors when they need help.
Find Ways to Help – Networking isn’t always about making introductions. People turn to their networks for all sorts of assistance. Share valuable insights, timely information, or helpful resources. Stand out from the crowd by being a source for valuable resources. Content curation anyone?
Give Twice, Ask Once – Follow this simple networking golden rule: for every time you ask for help, give it twice. In social media, that may mean making Twitter introductions and retweeting or resharing others. In traditional networking, it means sharing referrals and helping your fellow members.
Ask – Want to know how you can help people? Just ask. A simple “How can I help you” will do (and it does do wonders in turning a conversation into a powerful relationship building session). Often it’s not what you would assume.
Stop Keeping Score – Ditch the networking scorecard. “So-and-so owes me because I did such-and-such for them.” That’s not how it works. Sometimes it takes years before the give turns around and comes back to you, but trust me, it always does – usually in unexpected ways.
Give Freely, But Charge for Your Expertise – Knowing where to draw the line between ‘networking help’ and ‘free services’ is critical. Give freely of your strategic introductions or helpful resources, but draw the line at giving away what you charge for: your expertise.
One final thought: we are all busy, probably to the extreme, but remember that it only takes a minute to make a strategic introduction that could prove invaluable to the other parties. Invest the time to make those connectors – you will be rewarded for your efforts in the end.