Networking – It Is a Two-Way Process

Most people will agree that we network for one reason: to find more business. Most of the time we only focus on getting something out of networking, and forget about giving something back. It is important to realise that effective networking requires “give and take”.  If one person does all the giving and the other does all the taking, it will be a short-lived relationship. Both parties must benefit for the relationship to reach its full potential.

It is imperative to understand that by “giving”, you do not have to fix the situation at hand immediately. Networking meetings are a great place to give help and share your expertise and experience, but only if someone else asks for your help!  If one of your networking partners tells you they spend too much time doing their accounts (and you are an accountant) you should not just tell them a better way of doing it. If the person you are conversing with knows you are an accountant and asks for your help and advice, then give it freely and generously. If someone you meet at a networking meeting just wants to talk and share an experience with you, you will greatly assist him/her by just listening.

Experience is not a factor
Most young professionals feel they do not have anything to offer their older or more senior networking colleagues. More than often, this feeling is due to lack of confidence and is simply not true. The moment you follow an approach to give more than you take, the feeling will disappear. You might be surprised by how you might be able to help, even if you are far lower on the professional food chain than the people around you.

Become more likable
Thinking of networking as a chance to help others might seem absurdly optimistic, but this approach is far more effective than going into a new professional relationship asking for favours. Many people go to networking events with a definite goal in mind, and are anxious to make things happen quickly. This approach tends to make people appear very intense and self-interested, which is a huge turnoff. Avoid putting yourself in this situation by making networking a part of your everyday routine, rather than relying on it only when you are desperate.

Helping others will help you
Everyone will take a different path to advance in their industry, but workers who strive to help their colleagues and others in their network stand to reap significant professional benefits. There are more benefits to helping others progress their careers than just feeling good about yourself – there are professional benefits as well:

  • Become a leader: It has been said that you cannot be a true leader if you are not willing to help someone else. Helping one another is part of life and a vital element of being a successful leader and building a productive and effective workforce.
  • Make a difference: When you willingly go out to help someone, you are making your network active. This can lead to more professional opportunities for yourself. Looking for ways you can help people within your network sends a message and sets the tone for what it means to be connected to you, and your network is more likely to help you out down the road.
  • Grow and learn: Every professional interaction brings personal and professional growth. Being helpful and helping others succeed proves you are a team player, which is an important quality if your goal is to climb the corporate ladder.

Always remember that networking is about making connections in both directions, it is not just a one-way street. So, in your networking conversations, find ways you can help as much as you get help.

For more information contact Francois Pretorius at francois@succeedgroup.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.