Balance in professional networking is not a one-time static event or way of being. Each instance requires that you to take into account a number of factors, such as the nature of the event you are attending and the state of the person you are meeting. It’s important to know your habitual focus in networking — the place on the spectrum of giving and receiving you are prone to act from 75 percent or more of the time.
Being habitual in networking affects everything from your income stream to your reputation. You may be known by others as someone who takes more than they give, setting you up for fewer referrals and missed opportunities. Or, perhaps you are an over-giver, not going after what you want and perpetually perceived as someone who does not need help.
The following tips are a starting point for gaining more balance in your networking:
- Understand that on some days, you may be more in one role than the other–giving or receiving. That is fine. I am talking about a habit of setting up camp on one end or the other and staying there, no matter what the situation is calling for.
- Be more discerning and selective in your choices around which events to attend, and which people you want to meet. Some events are set up from the get go for balance. One of the best ones I know of is the Contribution Networking Party created by Thach Nyugen. (www.contributionnetworkingparty.com) Thach is a realtor, developer and philanthropist who created his concept as a way to give back to his community, and ultimately the world at large. His events are set up to provide a natural balance of giving and receiving, as everyone who attends plays both roles.
- When you make appointments to meet people, set the stage right from the start. When I introduce people to each other via email or in person, I always give both parties a few sentences about the other and tell them exactly why I am connecting them. By doing this, I set the tone up front for mutual exchange and balance.
Next time: Networking during a career search.