Everyone goes through a point in their life when they focus on themselves instead of building a network. Although we all subconsciously know that things are easier when working together instead of alone, we often ignore the benefits of connectivity in favor of the convenience of solitude.
We also go through a time when we let others do the networking on our behalf instead of putting in the work ourselves. Although friends, partners, spouses, and associates can put in a good word, that’s not the same as having a personal conversation that leads to a long-lasting bond.
If you’re ready to start being more effective at networking, the first decision to make is to put yourself out there. Once you start meeting people, your priorities must focus on the value you offer instead of what you receive.
Networking only works when there is give and take. Many people try to form relationships because all they want to do is take.
When you have a product or service to offer customers, the goal should be to provide value by reducing their pain points. You’re a problem-solver on their behalf! The same principle applies to your networking efforts. As you search for ways to make life easier for them, you’re developing a long-lasting bond that helps you get remembered more often.
LinkedIn provides numerous free tools that can help you keep contacts at the top of your mind. There’s not much harm in connecting with them online when a birthday pops up on your feed or an exciting post comes your way. If they have a work anniversary, be sure to congratulate them on that accomplishment.
Once you’ve made a connection and have a follow-up meeting, it’s time to start thinking about the next interaction. Most people need at least one conversation or point of contact with you to keep the relationship relevant. When you incorporate data about who the person is, what they love, and how you met them, it’s much easier to talk about something relevant instead of discussing the weather.
Humans are habitual creatures. The routines we develop for ourselves become a significant part of our behavior. An entire day can feel off when you wake up late, forget part of your morning habit, or encounter unexpected circumstances.
From a networking perspective, that means you need to be reaching out to people daily. It can’t be a process where you’re going through the motions either to make things work. If you aren’t authentically trying to get to know others, your network will struggle to survive.
It isn’t always easy to spot the acts of kindness that get done for you. They’re also easy to overlook when you’re used to having these actions taken on your behalf. It helps to take a step back, appreciate what other people are doing for you, and finding ways to be grateful for it. You don’t even need to like the individual to implement this opportunity. By focusing on the positive, you can direct your energy toward practical actions.
You will always find people who are rude, crass, and unreliable. It’s a constant across all industries and activities, whether you’re leading a soccer program or running a multi-million-dollar marketing agency.
Those actions aren’t a reflection of you. They reflect the true colors of the people who behave that way.
It would be best to find ways to look past that to be grateful for whatever opportunities come along. When you don’t take people for granted, it is much easier to give others the attention and appreciation they deserve for sticking it out with you.
Life is a series of choices. Although some of them are relatively easy (I’m hungry, so I’ll eat something), some of them can alter the scope of an entire life.
When people decide on a major to study, get married, start a family, or switch careers, everything can change instantly. These choices occur because we want to maximize the short- and long-term benefits and outcomes.
From a networking perspective, we must think the same way. Networking for the sake of doing it is a waste of time. When you work to form mutually beneficial relationships, the successes you create can snowball to help others find positive outcomes.