Written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Angela Ray
It’s old school advice with Biblical implications. Literally. Bible scholars and church goers may recognize this paraphrase from the King James Version of Acts: 20:35.
But regardless of your faith or whether or not you have ever step foot in a church, likely you have heard this phrase before at some point.
How does this relate to networking?
Well, if you meet someone new, a person that you plan to add to your professional network, how do you classify him? If the person, let’s call him Malik, contacts you within 2 days of your first meeting asking you for a favor, how will you feel? More importantly, will you be inclined to do it?
That’s really a loaded question. If Malik, from your perspective seems to have more influence and power than you or is connected with circles that you want access to, perhaps it might be easier to consider doing the favor.
Let’s say though, Malik seems to have about the same amount of influence and networking reach that you have. It’s likely more of a contemplation to do something for someone who could at this point still may be considered a stranger.
However, if two days after you meet Malik, he contacts you to give you free tickets to a concert that an associate gave him because he remembered the artist was one of your favorite singers, how will you feel? Excited? Surprised? Ready to see what you can do to return the favor?
Networking is all about giving. And when you can give to those who you have placed in your professional network, it breeds goodwill. It also sets you apart. You stand out from those who simply call or email people when they need something.
When you give, think about another old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” In other words, as you give to those in your networking, you too will reap the benefits of a helpful associate.
How to give
So maybe no one gave you free concert tickets to pass along to a new networking associate. Still, there are lots of ways to give.
1. Offer to help. When you make initial follow-up contact with a new associate, close out the correspondence with, “Let me know if I can help you in any way.”
2. Pay attention for clues on how to help. When you met your new associate, what types of things did she mention? Did she say she needed to get a new website for her company? Did she share that she was planning to take a vacation soon? Or, did she mention that she planned to relocate? Actively listening can be the source for you to help your new associate in the best way.
3. Send helpful business information with your first follow up contact. Maybe you read a helpful article that might also be beneficial to your new associate. Perhaps you learned about a free online business course that may be a good resource for your new associate. These are all ways to be helpful and set yourself apart.
4. If she is local, invite your new associate to an event. It could be a networking function, a social gathering, a business seminar, or even a dinner. Again, giving to someone else, without expectation that that person will reciprocate, is the quickest way to build good will and your network.