Question: I just finished Chapter 6 of #BYDN. How should we keep our network updated and share our goals with them without coming off as self-serving?
My Answer: Lots of people struggle with keeping their network updated — from organizational to time-management skills, good old-fashioned manners or, more likely, the association of “networking” with powerlessness. We can’t after all achieve a goal on our own — we need to seek the help of others. We may be scared to ask for help (what if the person rejects us!) or ashamed to admit what we need help with (what if they think my goal is stupid or that I’m stupid because I want to do this?). So this very human action — seeking help — gets wrapped in awkwardness AND negative attributes (i.e. self-focused, self-serving, self-interested etc.).
But for today, let’s focus on kicking this self-serving notion to the curb.
What comes across as self-serving in the orbit of relationship building (aka networking) to me are people who seek advice then never acknowledge receiving it. Definitely a 10 on the self-serving scale IMHO. Appreciate that people are willing to give TIME and thought to your challenges, it is time they have dedicated solely to you — not any other task or matter or person or beast. If you’ve been given sage advice or a door-opening introduction then it is doubly self-serving (and 11 on the self-serving scale) if you fail to acknowledge what you did with that advice or to report back on the outcome of the introduction!
Some of the ways I keep my network updated — and I’m going to say it — my aim is yes, to be helpful AND is completely self-serving: sell more books (and/or secure more opportunities to share the #BYDN network building philosophy):
· Regular updates on LinkedIn that both highlight my area of expertise (or thought leadership) and provide useful information my network can put to work — immediately.
· Acknowledging other people’s updates and accomplishments posted on social — and using it as a way to further conversation where it feels appropriate (so no, not all the time).
· My weekly newsletter. 52 times a year I try to educate, delight, humor and inform my community. I don’t do because I have nothing else to do each week or have run out of bon bons or whatever.
· Personalized follow-up when someone has helped me and/or when I stumble across something that reminds me of the assistance I kindly received from them.
Paying attention to what others are doing can reap big rewards — for both of you! Their “thanks and how are you” to your like or congrats or happy birthday message on a social platform, opens the door for a “thanks for asking, this is what I’m up to” update. Maybe there is a way to help you again (or someone else in their network) from learning what’s up. Sure is a nicer — far more genuine — way to engage in conversation that defaulting to sending a “Hey, did I tell you what I just” communication after an extended absence from their social stream (or email queue).
However, at the end of the day how you choose to communicate with your network is squarely on your shoulders. But please, if you’ve read Build Your Dream Network, do this for me: make your communications authentic and real — make it reflect YOU, evoking all the good feelings your network has from helping you out and seeing your face appear on their doorstep (real or virtual) — and isn’t simply a “this is the template someone suggested I use” time saving, generic (and self-serving) response.