One of the best lessons we’ve ever learned about networking is to view each new contact as a person you can help rather than a person who can help you. If you have an attitude of giving, you will find that your interactions will be more satisfying in the long run. When you help others, or make connections between new contacts, you will find that your generosity will encourage others to reciprocate these positive actions towards you. Here are some ways you can help others while you’re networking.
Be a connector.
Whenever you meet someone new, consider who else in your network would benefit from meeting them. Make these connections. You may not always be best suited to help a new contact, but they will remember how you pointed them in the right direction. That means they will gladly return the favor in their network. Being a connector quickly widens your network beyond what you might expect.
Provide short-term help.
If you can, help these new connections out in a small way with no compensation or benefit to you. Just do it because you have the skills they need to help out on a small scale. Of course, it is critical that you don’t allow this to become a habit to take a lot of time out of your day to help someone else. When you do a favor let them know what this would mean to you professionally and if they continue to ask, discuss future options.
Create a buddy system.
Networking is difficult and most people avoid it at all costs. They worry about starting conversations with contacts they just met. Why not offer to tag-team the next networking event meeting in your town with someone who is equally as reserved? You will always have someone to talk with in case you don’t make a connection to anyone else. It can also help if you both have connections that you can introduce to each other along the way.
Get to know them better.
Networking is often viewed as a shallow activity. You exchange names and job titles, but you rarely get further than that. Be someone who wants to know everything about the other person. Don’t talk about yourself. Instead, ask questions to find out more about them. Keep this information in your memory banks to help you connect to them outside of the networking event. In the future, follow up with an unplanned email when you come across related to their interests. It will show you are thinking about them and care about their personal side!
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