Networking with the mindset of getting only what you want will result in people being uninterested in helping you. Therefore, you need to network with the mindset of giving to others so they are willing to give to you. Follow these guidelines to focus on others for greater networking success.
Find common ground on which to facilitate discussion. The focus when first meeting someone (even at a professional networking event) shouldn’t be “How can this person get me a job.” The focus should be “How can we develop a beneficial relationship for each of us?” When you exchange business cards, mention you look forward to connecting again and follow up accordingly. Knowing what interests the individual means you’ll have conversation topics to build on when you meet up again.
Express Interest in Others
Ask questions about the ideas they’re expressing so you can learn more about their conversation topic. Building authentic interest in the other person helps you get to know them better and connect on a personal level.
Truly get to know individuals by asking about their family, friends, hobbies and other interests. Members of your network will be more willing to help you out when they’re comfortable openly communicating with you. When you come across as genuine, that gets picked up by the other person and will make them more likely (over time) to want to help you.
Email an article that may be of interest based on the conversations you had with an individual. If they are in social media, sharing examples of success from other companies that are like their organization shows you paid attention. It could also be something in the personal world like a sports team or a local event. Think about what you would appreciate and translate that over to your networking contacts.
Keep Communications Brief
Be clear and concise when asking for a favor. Express gratitude for the individual’s time. In addition, always say please and thank you. Offer to help the individual however you can, and remember to send a thank-you note for helping you.
Volunteer at Networking Events
Individuals you connect with will be impressed with your giving nature. You’ll also gain more exposure to other leaders by serving in a volunteer capacity. Continue volunteering over time to gain credibility in your giving and show you authentically enjoy serving others.
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