An email forwarded by a friend, wherein she was the recipient of a big, and I mean big, likely time-consuming, definitely reputation leveraging, and seemingly unreciprocated networking ask.
That email has me thinking…are you networking, networked or network-minded?
Hint: it’s the latter you really want to be striving for.
Networking is the busy work, the action, the verb, the activity. These most commonly are the conferences, coffee-dates, or conversations whether IRL or on Zoom we calendar as we prospect for new opportunities, insights or information.
Networked is whether you’re tapped into information flows. Are you a member of a group, association or society — or are you a member who knows what is going on? Do you, as a by-product of your involvement, have access to insights beyond the publicly available information circulated in a newsletter or group website?
Now as for network-minded, here’s what I had to say in Build Your Dream Network at page 52:
Switch from being ready to network to being network minded. Use your network to solve someone else’s problem.
Here’s how to start cultivating a “network-minded” reputation:
- Listen and find out what other people are interested in. This includes listening online!
- Provide critical information, expertise, or connections to get someone closer to the critical information or expertise they are seeking.
- Share resources and become a source of information about issues and opportunities in your school, workplace, or ex- tended social community.
- Share your influence, even if you have only a little.
- Cultivate a willingness to continue making relationships and to pass on information.
Being network-minded does not mean tagging on a limp “and let me know if I can ever do anything for you in the future” after you have received what you were seeking from a networking exchange – it means being sincerely proactive about it.
And in the story that sparked this week’s networking rant, well, the person making the request should have said it up front! as in “I have a big ask of you so we should talk about what that means and what I can possibly do for you in return“.
Showing you value the other person’s reputation and relationships is critical.
Instead of viewing it as their ability to easily make an intro (that speeds up your networking journey), take a moment to consider how their connections came about – the years of hard work they invested in their career and professional relationships — and consider how you’d feel if someone waltzed in from left field asking you to hand all that over, with nothing more in advance.
Need more? Check out these #BYDN posts + podcast episodes: