In order to get results when networking online and offline, it is important to take into account some fundamental principles. One of them is the networking attitude.
In my networking book “Let’s Connect!” I already defined the networking attitude as:
“Sharing information in a reactive and proactive way without expecting anything immediately in return.”
Let’s have a more detailed look at this definition:
– Information: in this definition “information” refers to both very general and very specific knowledge. For example, how to record a television program with a video recorder. Or the specific code of the newest software programming language. “Information” is also about business issues, like sales leads, and about simple day-to-day stuff (like “what are the opening hours of the supermarket”). In a professional environment “information” is, for example, a job opening, a sales lead, a new supplier or employee, opportunities for partnerships, interesting training courses or tips to work more efficiently.
– Sharing: this involves two parties. Networking is not a one-way street, but a two-or more way boulevard. It is always about a win-win situation, in which all parties are satisfied. What’s important in this concept is that you are comfortable with both giving help and making requests.
– In a reactive and pro-active way: in the first place this means that you offer information or help when you are asked to do so (reactive). But it goes further than that. You can send people information and connect them to each other, without them asking to do this (pro-active). But, of course, make sure you don’t SPAM them. A good approach could be to let them know you have this information and that you are willing to share it. Especially when you don’t know people well, this might be a non-confrontational approach.
– Without expecting anything immediately in return: in this era of short-term benefits it’s not a concept that’s immediately embraced by everybody. Let me also stress it is NOT about giving your own products or services away. It is about everything else: what is your attitude when dealing with people. Though it might be hard for some people, this is the one attitude that works best in the long run. This builds trust and makes you more “attractive” to other people.
By giving without expecting anything immediately in return, you will eventually receive much more than your initial “investment.” But you never know from whom or when. And that’s something many people have difficulties with. In our training courses this is always the start of a lively discussion because only a few people see how they can realize this without investing lots of time and money. We’ll see later in this book how we can deal with that and how LinkedIn can help us.
Remember that networking is a long-term game that always involves 2 or more players. You reap what you’ve sown. So start sowing (sharing) so you can reap more and faster!
Not knowing and applying the networking attitude is reason number one why people feel that LinkedIn doesn’t work for them. Because they are only focused on themselves they don’t receive help from other people and get frustrated with the lack of positive responses.
To your success !
PS: this is an excerpt from the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn (of in het Nederlands: Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken). Make sure you download your FREE light version.