Networking Tip #1 - Understand the right networking mindset
Many people think that networking is about going to conferences or events, being social, making conversation, shaking hands and coming home with a pile of business cards or email addresses. Then following up afterwards, letting people know what it is they are looking for (a job, clients, etc.). They attend events thinking - how can these people help me get what I want?
This approach to networking rarely gets the kind of results one gets when thinking exactly the opposite - how can I help others get what they want? You see, networking is really about GIVING not taking. It is about using your unique value to help others get what they want. As we are more keen to help those who have helped us or others, regularly giving to others opens up the channels for people to help you back.
However it is important to remember that networking is NOT transactional. If you help others with the expectation of getting help in return, then you are not really giving, you are taking action with the intention of ultimately TAKING what you want. This intention comes through in your words and behaviour and can be seen as trying to coerce others to help you. Rather than instilling good feelings in someone else, you can create a sense of obligation that inspires people to help you not because they want to, but because they feel they have to.
In order to both maximize the value you provide to others and build, positive, meaningful and mutually respecting relationships, start with the right mindset. To borrow a quote from another Fitzgerald (JFK) ask not what others can do for you, but what you can do for others.
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