There’s a definite right way and wrong way to network: avoid the faux pas and network the right way with these easy tips.
Networking is becoming a requirement for landing a dream job – but unfortunately, it’s not a skill they teach in business school.
Just like with anything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to network – and requesting thousands of LinkedIn connections from complete strangers is about as effective as having too many drinks at a party. In both cases, you’re not that fun to be around.
Networking can be incredibly rich and rewarding. It can lead you to connect with entrepreneurs who have succeeded in their own businesses, boost you up the career ladder, or help you launch the business of your dreams.
You just have to know how to network the right way – and for many people, it’s not a walk in the park.
That’s why I’ve come up with some guidelines for effective networking.
Want to be friends?”
Rule number one of business: don’t hire your BFF. Or your BF (or GF, for that matter).
When it comes to work, I make it a rule of mine to leave those I love out of the equation. That way, when you have to make some tough calls (and inevitably, you will), you won’t have to tread lightly.
The reason for this rule is clear: you can’t stay friends after a break-up, and you probably won’t be able to salvage a friendship with someone you’ve gone into business with if things go sour. The camaraderie that was once there in a seemingly limitless supply completely and permanently dries up after a business deal goes bad.
When personal relationships are mixed with business decisions, a huge amount of bias comes with it. It can obscure your ability to make the kind of hard choices you sometimes have to make in business. So be wary of the rose-colored glasses that come with doing business with your friends!
Networking is a two-way street
When we lead with networking, it’s easy to fall into the “how will this relationship help me?” trap.
But that’s not the right approach – nor is it effective.
I am a firm believer in a palms up, not palms out networking mentality. That’s because the most effective way to make business connections is to give before you get. Think of it this way, who would you rather open the door to greet: the vacuum cleaner salesperson or someone offering you a tray of freshly baked cookies? I don’t know about you, but I’d go with the cookies. Every time.
So how do you network with the right people and make sure you’re engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship (and of course, not wasting your time)?
One way is to make it a habit to connect with people who have similar interests. Eventually, when someone needs an introduction to an individual with a certain type of business or skill-set, you’ll be the first person who comes to mind.
Smart networkers know to make the most out of introductions by offering them first. You should, too. If you do it enough, people will think of you first as someone who should have business sent their way.
A networker’s “Golden Rule”
What do they say is the Golden Rule? Treat others the way you want to be treated, right? Not only is this a great rule to live by, but it’s a great rule to apply to your business contacts.
The fact of the matter is, influential people don’t always look influential. In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs often have a scrappy mentality that can extend to their lifestyles. Take Warren Buffet, for example. Can you believe that Mr. Buffet is known for eating at McDonald’s and then walking to his modest home in Omaha – the same one he bought for $31,500 in 1958? And who wouldn’t want to have a burger with Warren Buffet?
So keep an open mind beyond your close circle, and drop any “me first” attitude.
Now that I’ve shared some of my networking tips, I want to hear from you! What are your networking rules to live by, and why? Share them with the Tribe!