Anyone you meet could end up being a vital link to a completely different level of success. You never know the people and contacts who will change your life or your career for the better. Looking at new people through this lens is exciting– but a word of caution. Relationships built on need, aren’t satisfying and most industry contacts in our field can sense “NEED” right away, and unfortunately be completely turned off from helping you.
So how do you build important relationships without being a dreaded needy energy vampire?
BECOME A GENEROUS NETWORKER.
When in doubt, adopt the philosophy of giving before getting anything from anyone. Generosity is a wonderful relationship builder– and you’ll feel good about the help you provide people along the way. You can find something they are interested in and connect them to an interesting article or opportunity involving it. Or you can introduce them to someone who can solve a problem for them (this can be as simple as suggesting a great plumber or sharing an industry contact you have made). Either way it involves one VERY important element.
You can’t figure out how to help someone if you are doing most of the talking. Actors naturally gravitate towards the spotlight and are eager to share details about their craft and life. Give that impulse a backseat and 100% focus on the person you are talking to. Ask them questions about themselves. Let those questions spark more questions. Enjoy discovering who this person is. This is a networker’s MOST IMPORTANT work. You can’t fully connect with people or help them connect with each other effectively if you don’t fully understand them in the first place. Take the time to do this. And more importantly— find the joy in it!
A little word of caution…when it comes to helping someone to build your relationship with them, don’t translate that to mean hours upon hours of free labor. Simple, focused, thoughtful actions and connections are the best. Full on projects for someone else as a favor reeks of neediness and is not necessary. Showing you listen, remembering what someone says, referring back to it or helping them in a small way is enough to start to build a lovely relationship.
ADDITIONAL PRO-NETWORKING TIP: Write things down! After you meet contacts, jot the things you want to remember about them in a journal or computer file so you can refer back when your mind may get hazy. There are so many things you need to remember– lines, appointments, passwords— you don’t want to waste your networking experience by forgetting what you have learned about someone. Another great way to do this is jot a few notes down on their business card or in the notes section of your phone!
Photo kindly by @marvelous