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How To Give When You’ve Only Started Networking
‘Networking is simply the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give and take, win-win relationships. It works best, however, when emphasizing the “give” part.’ Bob Burg
If you are starting out on your networking journey, you are going to hear lots of advice, guidance and rhetoric around the notion of giving. But has anyone explained what this means or what this looks like in reality? That’s why I’m going to break it down and work out how to give when you’ve only started networking.
I think for many people they get overwhelmed by this notion of giving and thoughts start circling in the head like, e.g. but I don’t know anyone! I don’t have anything to give! I’m no idea what to give that’s going to be of value to another person in my network.
So I wanted to jot down a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. This is by no means exhaustive, but it’ll get you thinking and hopefully realising that there are lots of ways to support your fellow networkers when you begin your own networking journey.
Let’s get to it:
- Show Up Consistently – if you’ve taken the time to join a network, I’m going to make a bold assumption and say that you’ve done your due diligence and you know the schedule, plus the frequency. I always advise people to get the networking into their default diary. Plan it out in advance and make sure you schedule any other meetings AROUND your networking meetings. This time spent networking should be sacrosanct.
- The Know, Like & Trust Factor – you’ve got to spend the time getting to know your fellow networkers in the groups you are a part of. If you don’t do your 1-2-1s, then the networking efforts will never yield any value for you. Again, I refer to the notion of having a default diary. Schedule 1-2-1 time into your week as part of your networking process. Do a minimum of one 1-2-1 each week (per networking group that you are a part of) so that you consistently and constantly build up your network. This is also showing up and engaging. It’ll be noticed and appreciated.
- Add Value – as you get to know people and their businesses, you’ll start to understand what matters to them. You might come across an article that could be of interest to them and be of help. Why not email it on, share it on Linkedin or tag the person on a social media post – they’ll see the article or post and know you were thinking of them.
- Referrals – people generally network with a view to getting referrals. It’s great to be able to refer business into your fellow networkers. A word of caution, however. Don’t be hasty. Always do your 1-2-1s in advance and learn why you are helping the person and how to make an appropriate introduction.
- Testimonials – if you’ve used a service or product of someone in your network, think about how a testimonial might add value to either them personally or to their business. So for example, a personal recommendation or testimonial might be put on Linkedin. If it’s a business testimonial, you could be thoughtful and ask where best to place a recommendation, e.g. Google Reviews, Linkedin or just sending an email with the testimonial in it, that can be uploaded to their own website. And a bonus, if you include your full name and your company, then it’s a little bit of micro-networking for your business.
- Follow Up – if you offer to do something, be it give a testimonial, make an introduction, organise a 1-2-1, make sure to follow up. This is mission critical. Everything succeeds or fails based on our ability to follow up. I always advise people to schedule their development, i.e. pre networking time, their actual attendance and then their follow up time. Make it a part of the default diary, so you ensure that you carry through. This speaks to your reputation and your reliability. How do you want to be known and perceived? As someone who does what they say they are going to do…or the opposite…someone who promises the world, but never delivers.
- Get Social – find out what social media channels people are in, both personally and their company/professional handles. Follow them and start engaging with the content. And by engagement I mean, commenting, sharing, tagging others…get involved and show you care.
- Be a Connector – everyone in business has problems and pain points that they are trying to solve to make their business more efficient, productive and to accelerate their success. You might not be in a position to help, but you could very well know someone else who could help. Make the introduction and connect the two parties. They’ll both remember you for this gesture and the fact that you took time out to help.
- Share Your Knowledge – one of the amazing benefits of networking is how much you get to learn from other people in your groups. Most networks have what’s termed an ‘ed slot’, where 5 minutes are assigned to a member sharing something that makes them better in business with the rest of the group. Be willing to share your knowledge.
- Be Yourself – authenticity is a word that you’ll begin to hear more and more. For example, be your authentic self. But what does that actually mean? Well, in a nutshell it means you know your values, your beliefs, what you unequivocally stand for and are able to articulate this. It’s about believing and having a voice. This is important as bit by bit you’ll want to build a network of people that are aligned to your value set and your beliefs. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
All of these actions go towards building up your social capital. I always say, that we need to give without an expectation of receiving. If you invest of yourself, you build relationship consistently over time, you’ll become known as a stellar networker.
It does take discipline and effort, energy and time…but the rewards are mega and it’s worth it every day of the week. I hope these ideas ideas have given you some food for thought on how to give when you’ve started networking.
Connecting With NetworkingJean
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