Networking 101

I received a call last week from Bill. A mutual friend suggested that we talk. Bill was looking for a new job and was very interested in telling me about himself and what he could do and where he had been and how much he wanted to make.

Always looking to create a new relationship and value, I listened, asked a few questions and gave a few suggestions. He then said, “Hey thanks a lot.” And then he was gone.

What would you do with his name and number? Would you reach out to your friends and colleagues and lobby for his position?

Unfortunately I see this type of networking all too often. People reach out and it is all about them. I am friends with a writer on Trust; Charles H Green, who accurately points out that whatever trust we develop with other people, is powerfully divided by our level of self-orientation. If it is all about you I probably don’t care so much about your goals.

So if you are going to network and you want people to be motivated to help you let me offer three ways to improve your odds:

First, take the time to get to know the other person. Who are they, what do they do, what are they trying to get done? Theodore Roosevelt succinctly put this as, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The same hold true in networking.

Second, where can you add value to their goals? Robert Cialdini, PhD in his book Influence talks about the power of reciprocity.  He talks about how when one “gives” something to another there is an innate sense of reciprocity. That is if you give me something I want to give in return. (It probably goes back to our tribal days when we had to rely on each other a bit more than we seem to today).  He cites a study by the Disabled American Veterans where donation requests by mail were successful about 18% of the time. But when an unsolicited gift was included, the success rate went up to 35% almost double.

Finally, after you have each exchanged your “wants” and made the connection, follow up with a quick note or email reflecting what you spoke of and finding a way to stay connected and to remain in contact. By that I mean an email with relevant news once and a while, a brief call to check in and or an introduction to someone who you think they should meet.

More and more business today is being done as a result of networking and connections. Don’t blow your chance for success by being selfish.

One Comment:

  1. A good message John and it applies to people well beyond those looking for a job. But the job search is a perfect example of where you can receive more by giving more. People are much more willing to give when they have received something of value. And by value, I’m not referring to monetary value but rather that personal connection that gives me a reason to connect you with others.

    The bigger challenge for that job seeker is that they are so focused on themselves that it likely shows in interviews as well. They have such a strong interest in self promotion that they forget about the rest of the team. And good companies are looking for team players not just strong resume’s.

    Thanks for a well thought out article….


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