A reader writes:
I got a question about networking. I know about it’s importance. I know how it can help a career. I know about all the benefits of networking, but I don’t actually know WHAT I’m supposed to do. How do I network with people who are in a position to do something for me but I can’t really do anything for them? From what I understand, networking is about giving and taking…Right now, I feel like I ain’t got nothing to give and I’d be doing all the taking. I’m interested in building long term networking relationships but I’m simply having trouble on how to go about doing it. Any advice to any of this would be a great deal of help.
Here’s the thing…and it may sound roundabout. When you connect with someone and pick their brain about their expertise, they feel good that they’re helping someone and that they’re looked to as the expert. So don’t think you have nothing to give. That feeling they get is worth something in a non-mushy way). Once you meet with them, it’s your duty to keep in touch and let them know what’s going on. Periodically update them on what’s happening with you — particularly if you’ve applied some of their advice. Send them a link to something you think they’d find interesting based on the conversation. Add them on LinkedIn and congratulate them when you see they got promoted or a new job. If nothing else, endorse them for a skill you know they have.
Adding value doesn’t mean you’re giving them the hookup. It just means you’re contributing something to their life, and that can happen in a myriad of ways. Keep reaching out. At the very least, they remember your name and that you kept in touch. So when something does come up, you’ll be top of mind.