Everyone talks about networking. But who is doing it right? Is there a right way to network?
Networking Just to Network Does Not Make Sense. This is the title of an article I wrote for Entrepreneur. The point of the post was that when you network you should have a reason and a purpose. Everyone can benefit from a strong network.
Networking is not a dirty word. Anyone can benefit from having a solid network of friends, contacts and associates that can be called upon to help. As you should already know … There is an implied reciprocity in every successful network. You may not be called upon to provide the same in-kind services as you received. Your level of commitment and reciprocity will vary based on what your particular skills you can bring to the specific situation.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”
Ultimately networking is a way for you to give back and also get a little something in return. I personally see networking as mostly a way to give back. Perhaps that’s naïve, but I have found that giving back brings me a lot of personal satisfaction.
Four Simple Rules of Networking
- Grow your Network -- While this may seem obvious and a bit redundant I think it’s perfectly fine to let people know that you are growing your network. With a caveat … see #2.
- Build relationships with your network participants -- As you build your network never forget these are personal relationships. As you are growing your network you should seek people that reflect your values, can be trusted with your information, and vice-versa.
- Become known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) -- Everyone is good at something. Whatever it is that you are good at … highlight it, emphasize it, and offer it to your network. Seek people that have other strengths to augment yours and build something bigger.
- Develop high quality clients and work -- As you do your best work you can and should ask for referrals. These referrals form the foundation of your network. Of your future success. Don’t take or give referrals lightly as they are a key indicator of your ability to make a difference.
My Ultimate Rule of Thumb on Networking
Respect everyone. You never know who you might run into in the future. The network you build today can help you as you grow your career, your business and your life.
Is there only one right way to network? Is there only one way to network? The answer to both questions is no.
Related: How You Can Say 'No' Like a Pro
Network in the ways that work for you. If you decide they aren’t working … change them. This is how to grow your career and your circle of influence. By taking responsibility for your network and realizing it is your job to grow your network will stand out in your career.