Some people think of networking as all about getting and taking. But when done right, it’s also about how to give back. In this video, Dorie shares strategies for how to help your contacts in ways they’ll appreciate, including providing hands-on help to them, assisting the people or causes they care about, making targeted introductions, providing useful information or perspective they can’t get elsewhere, and making small, thoughtful gestures that show your appreciation.
- Some people think of networking is all about taking. But when done right, it's also very much about giving. Let's talk about a few ways you can make yourself useful to your contacts in ways they'll truly appreciate. If the person you're networking with is senior to you, it can be hard to figure out what you can actually offer them. You can't give them a job or allocate budget to them or even introduce them to new people because their network is way more extensive than yours. But one way you can almost always help is by providing hands-on assistance.
For instance, Heather Rothenberg, who I profiled in my book Reinventing You, made friends with powerful senior women in her industry when she volunteered to be the secretary of a professional association. It wasn't really glamorous, taking meeting minutes or booking room reservations, but it provided an opportunity to connect with leaders in her field who later helped her land a job as soon as she finished graduate school. Even if you feel like you don't have anything to offer your contact, odds are, there are others they care about whom you can help.
One powerful executive was 30 years my senior and we had very little in common, but his son had just graduated from college and was interested in getting a job in marketing. So I offered to do an informational interview with him and the executive was extremely grateful. You can also volunteer for charitable courses they support whether it's joining their table at a fundraiser or participating in a walkathon. For some contacts, you may be able to offer introductions that have real value. This is especially true for peers or people at a junior level, but you can also help senior colleagues if they're moving into a new area where you have expertise in connections and they don't.
For instance, you may know a lot of podcasters and that may not be particularly relevant, until a senior executive at your company authors a book and is looking for opportunities to promote it. All of a sudden, your contacts become quite valuable. But be smart, don't just blindly introduce people. Make sure you have both party's permission to make the introduction before you do so and then explain precisely why you think the two parties should connect. Don't leave it to chance and be sloppy at this final stage.
Sometimes what your contact might need the most is information. A very prominent business author, who hadn't published a new book in more than a decade, reached out to me because he wanted advise on book marketing in the social media era. He had sold a lot more books than I had and had a much higher profile, but I had more up-to-date information and was able to be helpful. Sometimes your perspective can be unique and valuable. If you're dealing with a senior leader, oftentimes it's difficult for them to get unfiltered access to on-the-ground perspectives about the organization.
They may value your insights precisely because you're not in a senior leadership rank and be eager to hear what you have to say. Even small simple gestures can have a big impact. Elizabeth Remini, another person I profiled in Reinventing You, made a $10 donation in the name of each of her mentors after the Asian tsunami. It was a small gesture, but it led to tremendous goodwill. Very few people take the time to do something like that and it does get noticed. Effective networking isn't just about what you can get from someone else.
More importantly, it's about how you can give back thoughtfully, whether it's providing hands-on help to them or others they care about, making strategic introductions, offering information or insight, or just making small kind gestures, your generous approach will set you apart.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Prioritizing contacts
- Building meaningful connections
- Managing your time
- Hosting networking events
- Networking on social media