In JanVermeiren’s networking book, Let’s Connect!, he defines the ideal networking attitude as:
“Sharing information in a reactive and proactive way
without expecting anything immediately in return.”
Let’s look at this definition in more detail:
- Information: in his definition “information” refers to both general and specific knowledge. For example, an aspiring entrepreneur helps out an acquaintance with a random subject – how to record a television program with a digital recorder, or how to findthe specific code for a software program. “Information” includes both business issues, like sales leads, and simple day-to-day matters (such as the opening hours of the supermarket). In a professional environment, “information” can be a job opening, a sales lead, a new supplier or employee, opportunities for partnerships, interesting training courses, or tips to work more efficiently (e.g. lifehacking tips).
- Sharing involves at least two parties. Networking is not a one-way street, but a two-or more way boulevard. The desired outcome is always a win-win situation in which all parties are satisfied. You need to be comfortable both giving help and making requests.
- In a reactive and pro-active way: First, this means you offer information or help when you are asked (reactive). But you can do more. Sending people information and connecting with them, without their asking, is being pro-active (without any spamming of course). A soft approach could consist of letting them know you have information of value that you are willing to share. This is especially useful when you don’t know people well.
- Without expecting anything immediately in return: in this era of short-term benefits this is an extremely important concept. Let us also stress it is NOT about giving your own products or services away for free. It is your attitude when connecting with people. An attitude that builds trust is crucial; people need to be interested in you. A false personality will only fall down later.
By giving without expecting anything in return, you will actually receive much more than your initial “investment.” But you never know from whom or when and this is a challenge for many people. In our training courses a lively discussion ensues because few people see how they can realize this without investing lots of time and money. One of my next blog articles will go into more detail about how to proactively network around your busy work schedule, so keep your socks on! I’ll get it to you as soon as I’m able.
Networking is a long-term game that always involves 2 or more players. Also, remember that when you share something you still have it, so you don’t actually lose anything.
Failure to understand and apply the right networking attitude is the number one reason why people feel that LinkedIn doesn’t work for them. Since they are focused only on themselves, they don’t receive help from others and become frustrated with the lack of positive responses.
An easy way to start sharing is by using Rich Media content like SlideShare or YouTube. Also Status Updates and participating in Groups is fairly easy to do.
So, what are your next steps for applying the Networking Attitude?
If you’d like, list some quick ideas down in the comments below or on a sheet of paper. Above all, make sure to take action!
To your success,
LinkedIn Expert | Speaker | Trainer | Mentor
PS:Looking for more LinkedIn tips? Learn more about (online) networking principles and how they apply on LinkedIn via the bestselling book “How to REALLY use LinkedIn” (a FREE downloadis available at www.reallyconnect.com).