That’s a rule for networking. And, I heard this formula at a recent networking event!
It means that you give in a networking situation, and give and give – before you ask anything in return. Think of it this way: if you come on too strong with the attitude of “Gimme, gimme, gimme,” the other person is put off and can’t wait to get out of your sight.
You might be thinking: “I don’t have anything to give.”
Well, that’s patently false. We all have something in our heads that can help another adult, no matter what their question or need. We all have experience to offer, plus knowledge that we have curated, on our own, by reading what is interesting to us.
Here are some “gifts” you can offer in a networking situation:
- Your listening – undivided and focused. You would be surprised how seldom a person really feels heard. It feels like a gift because it is so rare. Don’t be looking over their shoulder, hoping for a better connection. Focus on what the person is saying.
- Your summary – when you feed back what you have just heard, you validate the other person. You prove you were listening carefully. And, you confirm that you have the idea. You might say: “So, you lost your job during the reorganization, even though they had hired you just four months before.”
- Your empathy . Show that you feel WITH the other person and imagine their feelings. It’s as simple as: “Wow, that’s tough.”
- Permission . Ask first before you launch into a tale of your experiences and how you might solve the problem. Ask: “What can I help you with?” or “How can I help?”
- Your ideas . NOW, you’re in a position to give some help and advice, maybe. You might tell about your own job loss and how you eventually found the job lead that led to your current job.
- Your people resources . Here’s where you provide something only people can: referrals to business associates, coworkers and friends. With your introduction, you can send your networking partner away with something truly valuable – a connection.
- Your data resources . What have you read that might help in this situation? What podcasts? What websites? What books? We all consume hundreds of media bites each day. It’s so easy to follow up with a link, or the name of a resource. You can even find it on your smart phone while you talk, and forward the link.