How do you network with others?
I mean, what's your intention when you embark on a networking adventure?
Do you always have an agenda of whom you want to network with, and why?
Or, do you simply show up without an agenda and allow conversations and connections to happen more organically, but push for relationships when you realize you could potentially get something out of it?
If you answered, 'yes,' to the previous two questions, then in my opinion, you're approaching networking incorrectly.
Sure, it's helpful to understand the company you find yourself among -- those you find yourself socially engaged with, perhaps at a live event or even online (i.e. on LinkedIn).
However, knowing your audience and entering into networking situations armed with the question, "how can I genuinely help those I choose to network with?," will serve you better than the me-focused thinking of, "what can I gain from networking here?"
The reason is simple:
Most people (unfortunately) don't expect others to genuinely want to help them without expectation of having to provide something in return.
That's the advantage you can have as you network with others: being helpful without expectation of anything in return.
Most people network with an agenda to connect with others and get something from the relationship. That's not necessarily a bad thing unless your only intention is truly to get something and you don't really care about the relationship. Then you're just using people.
You have to authentically care about helping others out. The more you selflessly give in this way, over time, the more return on your relationships you will experience.
It won't always happen in exactly the way you might think, but you will have provided yourself far more trusting relationships and way more opportunities for others to help you than your counterparts who take a more selfish approach.
This caring, selfless approach to relationship building (a.k.a. networking) works because human psychology is playing in your favor.
While you're not expecting anything from others when you help them out, those you help out will feel you did something positive and unexpected for them and because you didn't ask for anything in return they will likely feel even more loyal to you and actually want to help you when an opportunity to do so presents itself.
Post by: Nick Venturella
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