The Give and Take of Social Networking
Looking for a job? Need some personal advice? Looking to make some valuable connections? Perhaps you should try social networking, but only consider it if you’re prepared to help others first. Otherwise, your efforts will fall short.
How to Make Social Networking Work
Successful networking occurs when people come together based on mutual respect and common interests, and then voluntarily provide support for others with no strings attached. Here are a few guidelines:
- Don’t wait until you desperately need a network to begin developing one. Social networks are based on trust, respect, and personal chemistry — that doesn’t happen overnight.
- Make the first move in the relationship. Be a giver not a taker.
- Only make promises that you can keep. Managing expectations is key.
- Like gift giving, give people what they want, not what you want them to have.
- If you can’t fulfill a request, recommend someone who can.
- Evaluate the reasonableness of your requests.
- Know what you want before making a request. Be specific. If you’re vague, you may end up getting something that you don’t need or want.
- Respect people’s priorities. They may have a lot on their plate. Be understanding if they can’t help you right away.
- When a friend introduces you to a colleague, make your friend “look good.” Furthermore, keep your friend in the loop.
- Never take someone’s good nature for granted; a thank-you is always required.
- Don’t keep score. Just because you performed a favor doesn’t guarantee one in return.
- When you do someone a favor, don’t make a big deal out of it. Do it to help, or don’t do it at all.
- Don’t push yourself on people. They’ll ask for assistance if they need it.
- Don’t show off by proving how much you know when a quick answer will suffice.
- Make sure you’re contacting people at a convenient time.
- Don’t become too reliant on any one individual.
- Don’t ask for sensitive information, be aware of the costs of your request — in both time and money, and make sure your requests are ethical and reasonable. When someone trusts you with sensitive information, maintain its privacy.
- Don’t judge other people’s requests.
Those who are successful at networking will tell you that its potential is unlimited. It only stands to reason that the people who benefit most are the “givers” — those who go all-out to help others — rather than the “takers” — those who are merely out for personal gain. The best networkers have learned that, as with anything in life, what goes around, comes around.