Question: How do you shift the networking focus from me / my business and how can you help me to networking that is more about we and reciprocal?
My Answer: This networking shift requires a change in mindset as well as shift in the focus of your networking activities, starting with dropping the how can you help me or what additional advice do you have for me networking outreach (or closing ask). Tactics to cultivate a reciprocal focus to networking include:
- Identifying a group of similarly minded individuals and email the group at regular intervals to uncover ways to help or promote each other. Weekly, I send a “club awesome” email to a group of five women who are hustling diverse entrepreneurial ventures to see who in the group needs a blog promoted or feedback from the group to overcome a work hurdle.
- Think back to meetings you’ve had recently where someone has helped you. Is there a way for you to help that person? For example, when I was making a career change back in 2002-2004, I had a lot of informational “me me me” interviews as I sought to land a management position in professional development. These interviews often involved indepth discussions of current issues in attorney training and development. While outside the profession, I was the center of a flow of information as a result of these interviews and by sharing insights I gathered, I was able to shift the follow-up conversation from me to we.
- Be the “we” networking bridge constructor by making the ask. Send that “you’ve done so much of me, I wanted to suggest…or I have some ideas how we can….” email (or better yet, make the call) and establish that new middle ground “we” networking focus.