Networking: Three Recurring (and vital) Themes

Networking is nothing new. In fact, it has been studied for years. As such, there are recurring themes within it. If you understand these three concepts, you will be ahead of the vast majority of the working population.

The Golden Rule of Networking: This rule states that effective networking is about giving to others first (with no expectation of any return) and simply hoping that things will come back to you. Your entire networking existence should be about finding ways to help or give to others … referrals, businesses, contacts, information, encouragement, your time … give, give, give. Trust me, it will come back to you.

The Quintessential Elements Of Networking Relationships: All things being equal, we do business with people we Know, Like, and Trust. In fact, all things being unequal, we still do things with those we Know, Like, and Trust. So everything you do involving others needs to center on you getting to KNOW them (and not necessarily them you) … you being perceived as LIKABLE to them … and you conducting yourself so they feel they can TRUST you.

Every Contact Has Opportunity: We are all a little guilty of this: Dismissing someone as not being of consequence to us. Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next employer or key business contact, everyone is somehow connected to one (directly or indirectly). Thus, treat everyone as if they have that potential and eventually good things will follow.

Understand (and really think about) these themes. They are important, as they serve the foundation upon which all effective networking activity is built.

Networking: What Is It, Really?

Networking Works. It may not work exactly how you want … It may not work exactly when you want … It may not work exactly where you want. But it works.

The first step to making it work for you, however, is understanding what it really is. A working definition for networking is:

  • Two or more people working towards their mutual benefit.

Networking is helping and being helped by others, and nothing more.

Given that definition, the universe of potential networking is very broad. The universe does include prospecting and selling, but it is much bigger than that. It also includes, servicing clients, attending events, volunteering, and even socializing.

In fact, successful networking is something you need to focus on every waking moment. It is not something born out of the 80s, 90s or new millennium… It has been part of life since the human existence.

It has been part of everything in your life. Not just finding jobs or getting clients, more than getting promotions. It is also (but not limited to) finding a golf league, spouse, and babysitter (and not always in that order). Networking is nothing more than humans interacting and somehow working together to survive and prosper.

Social Media Success

There are three important steps to success on social media. There is no magic. There are no secret formulas or short cuts. The key is to follow these three important steps.

1. Get Started (or expand your usage to be more effective)

2. Make time to take a little action each day

3. Commit to keeping after it

Admittedly, when it comes to social media there is a lot there and much to master and learn. There is nothing, however, that says you need to climb the learning curve in one day, one month or even one year. Even the most proficient users of social media find that they are continually learning new things.

Besides, no one is judging you on your proficiency using social media. They are only judging you on the value you bring to the network.

A Daily Dose Of Social Media

To successfully engage yourself in social media (this immensely-large, continuously running and information-rich networking event), you only need to devote about 100 hours per year to it.

Now, when you put it that way, the task seems insurmountable. Here is the reality, however: This translates to only about 20 minutes a day or a couple hours scattered over the course of a week. That does not seem so bad.

  • In the morning, when you are enjoying a cup of coffee, you might tinker with your profile.
  • Another day, you take a mid-morning break and interact within one of the groups you’ve joined.
  • Then, at some point during the week, while you are waiting for dinner to warm up (or arrive) you jump into a discussion or answer a question.
  • Finally, when there is a break in the action from the big game you are watching, Share An Update.

It is important to note that there are websites and applications available that will empower you to be more effective interacting and sharing information. While those are beyond the scope of this program, a quick search online and you will find plenty.

LinkedIn Active Use 4 of 4

The final active use of LinkedIn is taking advantage of the “Share An Update” feature, where you can report what you are doing, what’s on your mind, or what you would like others to know.

Found on your LinkedIn home page, this is an underutilized feature that can be used in one of three general ways.

Mini Press Release: Imagine having a publicist. Someone who tracked your every move and reported it to the world like some Hollywood star. Well, with LinkedIn, you can. Using the Share An Update feature you can share on your profile the things you are doing. This can enlighten others on your activity (personally or professionally) … Who you know … What you are working on.

Add Value: As we discussed earlier, adding value is important whether you are networking in a traditional manner or via LinkedIn. People simply want to associate with those that have something to offer – it is purely human nature. Using the Share An Update, you can provide value to your LinkedIn network by offering information, sharing insight or simply making alerts.

Evoke Discussion: Finally, just like contributing content, you can use the Share An Update feature to gain information quickly or simply engage your network. This activity creates interaction and interaction generally leads to value. So think about engaging your online network by asking a question, soliciting feedback, or creating a forum for discussion.