How Do You Network?
- Create a Goal: Set short and long-term goals to bring focus and purpose to any networking event. Goals will also guide what events you attend, who you’ll talk to and what you’ll talk about. Set a goal before you leave the house.
- Open Doors: Look for obvious and non-obvious opportunities to connect with other people, whether comfortable or not because the more you put yourself out there and make meaningful connections the greater your chances of accomplishing your goals.
- Announce Your Goal: When we tell people what we want we make a personal commitment to our goals and we also give people a chance to help us. By putting our goals on display we greatly increase our chances of achieving them.
- Close the Loop: We have an important and individual role to play in achieving success. If we want good things to happen, we have to make good things happen. We do this by following-up with people we meet at a networking event. Close the loop and open a new one.
How to Make Networking Work: Rule 5
Rule #5 Help Others
This last rule is about switching our focus to others. Recently I had lunch with a wonderful colleague and friend who has been helping me advance some of my professional goals. Half way through the meal I paused the conversation to thank her for offering me her limited time and energy. Her response, “More than happy to do it. I believe helping others comes back to us in a variety of ways.”
And she’s right. Plain and simple, I’ll find myself more than happy to offer my own time and energy some day toward the advancement of her goals. That’s the basic rule of reciprocity.
The more you open doors (Rule #2) the more opportunity you’ll find to help and influence others. And that is something to embrace. When you ask questions to get to know others, as suggested in Part I, you’ll discover you may have something to offer. Ideas, information, connections, resources, and the list goes on.
If you’ll recall, Rule #4 was about closing the loop. Perhaps your follow-up will be focused on the other person instead of yourself. And that is a great strategy to take.
But don’t keep score.
- Over time, people will find ways to do remarkable and unexpected things for you that make your life easier. If you manage your career and live your life in this way, two magical things will happen:
- When you’re hit by a storm, you are likely to find the most astonishing human network of support you could ever imagine.
I personally find this to be the most pleasant way to go about a networking activity. With my mind trained on expressing genuine interest in others and how I can help them, I discover these events to be entirely bearable.
Through my networking efforts as I pursued an adjunct teaching gig, I found my best skill to offer others was career advice and resume review. I gave a handful of people advice on their résumé without expecting anything in return, but I remained optimistic that something good may come from it.
And it did. I am proud to be an adjunct instructor at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Networking worked for me. Can it work for you?
5 Rules to Make Networking Work
In closing, social media has come a long way in the last few years and made connecting with people easier. It just requires a click of a button. But social media should only augment, not replace, the more traditional connections that occur through human interactions. It takes an understanding of what you’re after, and a little concentrated effort to make the most of any networking opportunity.
- Create a goal
- Open doors
- Announce your goal
- Close the loop
- Help others
Consider this: What are you after? How can these 5 Rules to Make Networking Work work for you?
How else do you network? Share your thoughts below.
For more on networking from around the web:
- The Complete Guide to Networking for New Grads (collegefeed.com)
- 5 Tips For Networking at Events (lifehack.org)
- Essential Networking: International Networking Part 1 (theepochtimes.com)
- 8 tips for more efficient business networking offline (agbeat.com)