When you invite someone into your home, you go to great lengths to make them feel welcome. You try to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. You endeavor to create a standard of hospitality. You want them to want to come back. Moreover, you hope they share about their experience, so others know of your hospitality.
Obviously, you can’t have everyone to your house. After all, much of the day you’re not even there. So, while you can’t invite everyone into your home, you can and do invite people into your presence.
Be welcoming to them to. Make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Exhibit a level of hospitality for being around you so they want to come back to visit. Create an experience that they share about with others.
If you consistently do this, you’ll have no shortage of great people in your presence. And nothing but good can come from that.
Wharton School of Business Professor, Dr. Adam Grant shares that “When you’re torn between being polite or being honest, err on the side of sincerity. It’s better to be disliked but respected than to be liked but disrespected.” Grant goes on to indicate that in the long run, the people we trust the most are those with the courage to tell the truth.
The reality is that the truth may sting, but, done right, the truth you share offers value. This is because your candor can really provide a path to improvement. Depending on the situation, it allows someone to be better or do better.
This does not mean that you should be brutally honest with your thoughts and opinions. After all, no one likes to feel injured. But there is that middle ground. You know: Where the feedback you share might not be complimentary, but is constructive and well-intended in nature.
Simple math says if you subtract a larger number from a smaller one, you get a negative number. If you spend more money than you make, you go broke. Yet in networking, you give more than you expect to get and somehow that formula leads to prosperity. How can this be? Simple.
Much of what you give to others – referrals, information, and contacts – is not depleting you.
If you referred a job-hunting friend to an ace executive recruiter, what are you really out? Nothing, beyond a little time. To the two people you have connected, however, you have conveyed real value. And, in time, what will likely come back to you are things of significant value to you.
This is incredibly powerful stuff. The gist of this in networking terms is that what you give may not compare to what you get. It’s not an exchange of like-kind items. For this reason, networking arithmetic doesn’t follow conventional wisdom. So, you can’t go broke by giving to others.
No one ever said that life would be fair. Some people have more money. Others are taller. Some have super blue eyes. Still others seem to be in the right place at the right time. Life is “not fair.”
However, as much as life is “not fair,” it is “not unfair” either. That is, there is no great scheme to defraud you from getting your piece of the American dream or derail you from the goals you aspire to.
Understanding this, you should generally avoid the temptation to carry on as if somehow you have been cheated. You haven’t. Moreover, this attitude is counterproductive. You see, few people can really identify with this “I have been wronged” attitude and even fewer people want to associate with those who believe this. And those who do, you don’t really want to be around.
No, things are not perfectly equal. Accept that. And then move on. Everyone will respect you for it.
In her book, The Networking Survival Guide, social capital consultant Diane Darling shares that in 1727 Ben Franklin and other American patriots formed a sort of networking club for the purpose of mutual improvement. In fact, the group valued education so much that the members were instrumental in starting the University of Pennsylvania.
Darling queries, “Imagine what it would be like to meet each week with people of the caliber of Benjamin Franklin. The value of their intellect and viewpoints was so high that they wanted to learn from one another and share their knowledge.”
Darling goes on to make the point that in the 21st century you are in a better position than Franklin and his network colleagues ever were. Think about it. The Internet opens up an entire world of great minds, information and resources to benefit from. You just need to be committed to exploring it and connecting with others.
If you’re an entrepreneur, sales representative or professional, no doubt a business card is part of your daily attire. That is, you feel a sense of anxiety – just like when you forget your phone – when you don’t have an ample supply of cards to share with that next prospective client or strategic business partner.
Your business card, however, is not just a functional component of doing business day in and day out. Done right, it’s also an integral part of your corporate identity strategy. Most times, it’s the first visual impression you make about your professional image.
For that reason, it’s important that you invest in a business card design that represents your brand well. In addition, be sure to coordinate it with other aspects of your visual brand, such as letterhead, envelopes and brochures, as well as your website and social media.
Let your business card be the leading edge of your corporate identity.
Ubuntu (oo-boon-too) is a traditional African philosophy that explains how we are bound in each other’s humanity. And it can be roughly translated as “I am because you are.”
It embraces the idea that humans cannot exist in isolation. That we cannot be without each other and that you and everyone else depends on connection, community, and caring. Moreover, ubuntu instills the mindset that “When you do well, it spreads out. And the benefits to you are really for the whole of humanity. Everyone is better off.”
With the ubuntu mentality, strive to put goodness into the world. When you see suffering or someone with an issue, look to help them, as helping one person really helps everybody, including yourself.
In addition, celebrate the victories of others. Remember, under the notion of ubuntu, another’s achievements (not matter how small) somehow lift everyone, including you.
On a January 2020 episode of the Networking Rx podcast, author and speaker Bill Cates said, “In real estate, it’s about location, location, location. When it comes to reaching out to new people it’s about personalize, personalize, personalize.”
Cates went on to elaborate that personalization is not simply inserting someone’s name or company information into a merge file, then hitting a button to shoot out a canned e-mail or letter. Rather, personalization is about really gaining a sense as to who a person is and then incorporating what you’ve learned into one-on-one individualized communications.
There is no doubt that in the computer age, you can become extremely efficient in communicating with dozens, if not hundreds, of contacts with just a few keystrokes. However, as Cates implies, don’t confuse efficient with effective. Personalization is not at all efficient, but it is highly effective in winning over the hearts and minds of your contacts. And in the end, that matters most.
There is no question that LinkedIn is a wonderful means of connecting yourself far and wide. If you’re hesitant to use it because you feel woefully behind with relatively few connections, here’s a tip: Join and participate in a LinkedIn group that represents a professional community of interest to you.
For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and interested in new members. Once you’ve joined, you’ll be one step closer to a plethora of like-minded business types. From here, you’ll be able participate in conversations where you can learn and add value. From here, you’ll be able to directly communicate with the group members, even if you’re not yet “connected”. From here, you can confidently send connection requests to people you might not otherwise know, as you have the group in common.
So, if you feel behind on your LinkedIn efforts, you can catch-up in a hurry. Simply find, join and become involved with a group that is of interest to you.
When it comes to professional networking and building those relationships, the mantra is simply “give to others and expect nothing in return.” That, however, can be difficult. Life and business have ongoing pressures. After all, your mortgage payment won’t wait for your good deeds to comeback to benefit you, right?
Nevertheless, you should never expect an immediate payback for your generous efforts. If, however, if you are looking for an activity that has a relatively rapid turnaround you should consider volunteering.
Giving of your time and talent to something you’re passionate about will quickly provide you with a plethora of new contacts (mainly from other volunteers). Plus, volunteering offers you the ability to try new things, adding to your skillset. And, study after study shows that by giving your time you become happier and healthier.
Each of these serves to immediately benefit you professionally, which provides a quick payback for your efforts.