Networking. Just the utterance of the word can be akin to getting the flu. We don’t like it, feel we aren’t good at it or see it as a necessary evil to “get ahead” in our careers.
Others are fanatic about networking. They are networking 24×7 and never seem to shut off. Many of us speculate if these people have a life outside “The Network” and we watch and wonder while they “work” a room.
For a more in-depth approach to networking may I suggest my all-time favorite book about sincere networking, Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. Not only does he articulate the foundational principles of networking, but he lives and practices them everyday. He’s one of my heros and I’ve had the chance to meet Keith and begin a wonderful friendship with him.
For this post I suggest 6 practices that if you do them now they will add value to your relationships and increase your depth of connections with colleagues.
- Build Your Network Before You Need It – The best time to build a network is long before you need it. Just like a savings account you will need to make regular “deposits” of time, service or helping others before you can “withdraw” when you need your network to find business opportunities or new employment. This is a key principle and vital to a person sincere about networking.
- Be a Participant – It’s great to observe a network for a time to get to know how it functions and how you might fit in, but do actively participate. You could help organize the meetings, offer to help coordinate or promote the event. Become known as someone who adds value via active participation rather than someone who is there only to serve their self-interests.
- Give In Order to Receive – Once you perform a service or give of yourself, your time, your assistance, you will gain the trust of those in your network. Never give with the expectation that you’ll receive. Keith makes this point strongly in Never Eat Alone. Giving without expectation of receiving becomes a tremendous strength and you will be surprised at the goodness that comes back to you. Call it Karma if you like, but there is power in this principle.
- Respect Connections & Confidences – As your connections deepen you may find yourself in the confidences of others. Please treat these confidences with the upmost respect and do not share anything without permission from the individual. You are building a trust network as well and this takes time and energy. Trust may take years to establish and only a moment to collapse.
- Become a Facilitator – Look for ways to connect others through your introduction. Perhaps you’ve met different people and while you may not have a need at this time perhaps you could facilitate a valuable connection for others. This is a great way to add value, build trust, give service and add to your credibility with your network.
- Good, Better, Best – This is a challenge for all of us, but there are many ways to spend our time doing Good things and even Better things – but what are the Best ways we can invest our time right now. Out of the 100 things you did today what were the three things that added the most value to you and/or your employer? What will those be tomorrow? Giving up the Good or the Better for the Best can be a tough decision to make, but I highly encourage you to give this process some thought and act on it.
Notice I did not promise you wealth or success in your business. That burden is still up to you, but you will make new connections yourself and enjoy experiences and successes that will surprise you.
I certainly have and I need to author some illustrative stories from my own experiences.
I wish you all the best and thanks for reading and connecting with me!