The spark for this post was neither the 2020 election news cycle nor the way some people the brakes on their networking because they anticipate a job offer (’cause I’ve talked about that before and you can find it here “Don’t Hit Pause On Your Networking” on the #BYDN blog)
No, the spark resulted from a numerous questions about how to stay top of mind or build relationships with colleagues when all of the encounters with these critical work relationships are through a computer screen?
Picking up on a thread from my conversation with Sherrell Dorsey (if you missed that, best listen to it today), where Sherrell introduced her approach of “being of service” (that is, rather than thinking about networking within a new organization, ask how you can be of service to the organization), with your boss or colleagues or clients why don’t you start asking yourself:
How can I anticipate their needs?
Yes, in big bolder font as damn, sometimes in our anxiety to make a good impression or the stress of wanting to do a good job we get immensely tangled looking inward that we completely forget — networking is a two-way street! It involves other people, not simply our needs, desired outcomes etc.
So to break out of your networking fixation on yourself, start thinking about what the other person needs:
- For example. You’ve requested a chat with a mentor. Why don’t you send over the topic(s) you want their guidance on in advance of the chat, rather than springing it on them when you actually meet. The upside for them, they can start thinking about answers, and calculating the real length of time needed for the discussion.
- Another example. Your boss schedules a weekly team meeting. Can you offer to gather responses or agenda items? What about following up on the items from a prior meeting? Can you report outcomes or send along additional ideas (rather than your boss having to ask or inquire).
- And another example. Between assignments or deals, can you forward information of interest to a client (could be about them, or a competitor or their industry).
Look around. Observe what others are working on, scrambling to complete, sweating out the details on. Can you raise your hand and offer to help? Think about creating opportunities to connect with a “if it was me, trying to complete what they are working on, what would I need right about now?“.
Don’t simply wait for opportunities or to be asked, proactively create connections by anticipating needs.