When you are networking, always think about how you can help others, and not so much what others can do for you. If you give more than you receive, eventually good things will come your way. You
really have to be patient because in some cases it can be a long wait, or at least feels like it is. Networking is also about building trust and that is not something that you usually can do overnight. Keep providing value and doing good, and people will trust you. Once you gain that trust, do all you can to maintain it; because it can be lost in an instant if you make a false step.
Should you give up when it appears as if your networking efforts are going nowhere?
Do you feel like giving up on networking because your efforts seem to be ignored by others? Do you give, give, and give, only to receive nothing in return? Do you connect with new people only to find out that they are only trying to sell you products or services, and don’t care to know you personally? Do you help people and never get a thank you in return? Do all of these questions sound familiar? Well, they are all a part of networking. These are the negative or downside of networking. It can sometimes appear that only negative results are received when you first start out networking. Believe
me; I have networking horror stories that can fill a book. But, if you just give up on your networking efforts you will never get to see the positive side of it. Remember, I told you it takes some time so hang in there. There are times that I felt like giving up because I came across unappreciative and “shady” people. However, I hung in there and eventually met some really great people who are now in my professional network.
Last year I started a networking/job search group on LinkedIn. When the group first started, we went through the awkward stages that most new groups go through. Being a new group manager, I also made a lot of mistakes along the way too. At times I felt as if I was speaking to myself because I did not receive any replies and could not get people to participate beyond an initial introduction. It was difficult but I kept trying everything to get people to respond and participate. Then I stopped worrying about people responding and just tried to provide information of value. I started to give without thinking about receiving back. What was the result? Bingo! People started sending me private messages telling me how much they liked the group and how much I was helping them. Other people tweeted about the group and invited people to join. One group member has mentioned the group on his blog numerous times. It took a while but I learned that if you give first and provide
value, people will trust and respect you. They might not tell you right away, and in some cases, they might never say a word; but it does not mean that they don’t like or appreciate what you are doing. Today the group has grown to over 400 members and is doing very well.
Some benefits I have received as a result of networking.
Some time ago I had a business lunch with someone in my industry. This was a perfect stranger that I met through networking. The meeting was very successful and ended up lasting for 3 hours long. As result, I received several new recommendations to follow up with. I went into the meeting thinking about what value I could provide to this network contact but in this case, I received way more than I could imagine.
When I got home from my business lunch, someone from my LinkedIn network sent me an e-mail asking for help. They asked if I would come to their company and help out with an IT migration project. Of course I said yes! How and why did this person think of me? I helped spread the word about their company, and I arranged to get them a spot on a Blog Talk Radio show. I never looked for anything in return but it was nice of them to think about me.
Networking, and helping others has afforded me many other opportunities such as being invited to speak at venues, appearing in a major magazine, an exclusive interview on CNN, interviews on
Internet Radio shows, new clients for my business, and job interviews. I also receive numerous gifts from people just to say thanks for something that I helped them with, or advice that I provided. I would not have experienced these wonderful things if I gave up in the early stages of professional networking.
All the things that I just mentioned did not come overnight. It took weeks, and months of networking to get to that point. The key is to always provide value when networking and think more about helping others than helping yourself. As you continue to network, your needs will be taken care of as well. Sometimes it will even come from unexpected sources.
My advice to you is, network, network, network, to your success!
Author Bio: Marleen Graham is a Concierge and owner of Redy2Assist, LLC. She is also a customer focused Information Technology Professional, with more than 11 years experience, specializing in UNIX and Windows Systems Administration; and has appeared twice on CNN. Marleen volunteers, and is an avid networker who enjoys helping people. She is a firm believer that networking is the key to finding a job, or business clients in any economy. She also knows that networking is more about giving, and sharing, than it is about receiving. To find out more about Marleen Graham and her volunteer efforts, please visit Marleen’s profile on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/marleengraham or visit her personal website at www.marleengraham.com
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