Buy a life raft before you are treading water

Make friends before you need them (Harvey MacKay “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”).   Networking should be an ongoing activity starting now and ending never. You should be networking when you have a job, when things are going smoothly, when you need to use your network to find work or job leads.  Networking should be as natural as breathing, but for many of us it is not.  I am a late comer to networking.  It was not part of my past.  My parents did not network and my friends and coworkers did not either.  If I can do it, you can too.    Networking is easy.   You can prospect or network on linkedin just like you can face-to-face.   Networking in person or on the internet is the same.

  • You would not walk up to a woman on the street and ask for a mid-level sales job.  You don’t know if this person is in the position to hire you nor do you have any relationship (history) for her to make that decision.
  • It is much different if you walk up to a friend you have been exchanging messages and a couple phone calls with over the past 5 months and ask if she knows of a job opening.

Look at networking as making friends before you need them.  Networking is NOT a list of names.  That is where you start.  Networking is building relationships with these people and becoming friends. Keith Ferrazzi in his book Never Eat Alone says, “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” Most of the best LinkedIn networkers agree with this “paying forward” idea.  If you are networking on Linkedin, here are some ways to begin putting up the building of friendship one brick at a time.

  • Recommend people in your network.  Write at least a recommendation a week.  Be honest.
  • Suggest possible connections to others by forwarding a profile with a note about why the connection may be good
  • Answer at least a question a week.

What if you are already needing that network to get job leads or prospects?  DO NOT start contacting them asking for job and sales leads.  DON’T!   Start by recommending 10 people who you want to ask.  Then find 20 in your network and see if you can help them make connections.  Find 5 you want to contact directly and ask them a simple question about the industry, something you want to know, but nothing that is going to take a lot of time to answer.  With the question, ask if there is any way you can help them.  Now you have paid for your help, start asking some quesitons and continue recommending, connecting and asking.  You are on your way to networking success.

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7 thoughts on “Buy a life raft before you are treading water

  1. This was a very well written and informative article about networking. When you are passionate about helping others, it pays you back tenfold. Thank you Jim for this great advice about writing recommendations and properly paying it forward.

    As Bob Burg said “The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own.”

  2. Jim, I agree. I’d love to hear that networking is being taught in schools as it has become a basic life skill.

    Imaginine the impact on us all if we were taught business and life skills in school. I know this is a vision you and I share, Jim! This blog post is you doing your part.

    The good news is there are people who teach networking skills through classes, articles, blogs, podcasts and such online and off. So if you’re reading this and you’re shy, introverted, or uncertain about where and how to start, do a Google search.

    And if you’d like to network with people using a new technology that integrates telephone with a web-based technology that lets you connect with a series of people one-to-one while looking at their profile, I encourage you to check out http://www.blitztime.com/bt/1128765742 ~ That’s how Jim and I met and how we’re both getting to know, like, and trust people faster than any other way other than face-to-face networking.

    Here’s another Success Action Step. If you’re already an experienced networker, find a newbie, take them under your wing, and show them the ropes. They’ll be so grateful and you’ll get to connect with people on a whole new level.

    So jump in… the water’s fine… and there are people all around you who will help you swim – just ask.

    The Energizer Bonnie
    http://MarketingToYOURworld.com

  3. Susan: “When you are passionate about helping others, it pays you back tenfold.” Now that is a good ROI. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Bonnie: Love those action steps. Thanks for bringing up blitztime.com

    I love this Quote: “I see the more formal LI as my online office, FB as my online living room and Twitter as my front porch.” Rod Jurado CPT
    Rod’s Linkedin profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rodjurado

    The message for networkers is your home has specialized but connected rooms and so should your networking.

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  5. Jim in my local community, on the speaking circuit for marketing, I talk about networking is not an event, not a process but a way of life. Like meeting a new neighbor – you just don’t drop off a welcome to the neighborhood gift, you tend to visit a new neighbor and continue to connect with them in various ways. It’s as you say, “It is much different if you walk up to a friend you have been exchanging messages and a couple phone calls with over the past 5 months and ask if she knows of a job opening.” It’s about adding value first so that when the time comes, after YOU have added value, asking for something that you might need or want. Excellent post.

  6. This is an outstanding article, some people approach networking with the wrong intentions or feel awkward asking for help, Jim’s article hits all of the essential elements of “paying forward” ideas and suggestions for building your value to others using LinkedIn.
    This single article is anyone’s “quick start guide” to LinkedIn and building effective face to face relationships in all the right ways.
    Jim Sutton speaks from the heart which is clearly evident from his unwavering commitment to helping others.
    Happy Networking to all,
    Chris Gralton

  7. Pat, I like your description of networking as a process not an event. I appreciate your taking the time to share your expertise.

    Chris, Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate the connections you sent my way.

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