The confusion over networking continues to persist. No one knows what this nebulous thing called networking is but they know that they should be doing it. Here’s an easy explanation. Networking is always being ready to say:
How can I help you?
When you go through life realizing that every day you have the opportunity to help someone else and actively look for those moments, you will find yourself networking and building a network without trying.
Are you building a trustworthy networking reputation?
While the first step in networking is asking the question, how can I help you, the second step is building a reputation as a trustworthy person so people will be willing to accept your help. I am not going to be so willing to let someone help me who has a reputation as a scammer or spammer but if someone has a reputation as a genuinely nice person, I will trust their advice.
Don’t help just to benefit yourself or your network
When you help, you have to realize that it won’t necessary result in immediate payback. You have to feel you are networking without a plan to get something back. This doesn’t mean that down the road, you won’t get rewarded, you just won’t get it back immediately. I see networking as an investment plan. It helps that engrained in me is a natural desire to help. I support small business owners who have products I love all the time not because I think will gain something from it but because as a small business owner myself, I want to help others.
As a career professional, using a proactive strategy of building your network by being willing to help someone out throughout your career, you will have a network to reach out to if something does happen to your current job or you just want to move on. If you are already in a position that you need your network, start by thinking about helping someone else as you ask for help and then make it a lifelong practice.