Heck I’m just one degree of separation from Barack Obama on LinkedIn. Meaning, someone I’m connected to is connected directly to our president.
That is pretty cool!
What this also means is that we can quickly and readily gain access to people in just about any location or with any company/organization.
Again, good stuff!
Here is the problem. You are not alone.
The networked world spans beyond you, your connections and your needs. With just a little effort becoming connected is reasonably easy to do. So that means when you decide to leverage the network that you are going to be faced with the challenge of competing with what seems like an endless number of others trying to do the same thing.
Networking Food For Thought
Most likely your networking needs emerge from time to time. If you are good at getting the most of your network you may have more consistent needs.
But the difference between those that network well and those that “Use” their network is built on one word.
Now, ask yourself this question…How often to I request help from my network versus how often to I help my network?
Simple enough question, but your answer is where networking success lies.
If your answer skews toward asking more than giving then chances are you may really have to work hard to get the help that you need. Moreover because you are less a networker and more a “Taker.”
If you think you lie in a pretty even distribution then you are more of “Trader.” Meaning you will help when you need help. This is better than a taker, but still tends to be less than ideal because you come at networking with an I for an I mentality.
Finally if you say you help more than you ask then you are a “Selfless Networker.” This is the position that will give you the most support when you need it because you have shown that your help doesn’t have strings attached.
Selfless Networking in Practice
The distribution of help requested versus help given isn’t the only indicator. Sometimes you cannot fully control the distribution.
However, if you aren’t providing to your network and only taking, you will find it hard to continue to benefit from your networking efforts.
Selfless really comes down to intent…
Think about the following…
When you choose to help others in your network, what is the motivation?
Is it because you think…”If I help them, then they will have to help me?” or is it because you feel you can help and more importantly you WANT to help?
Intent is Obvious
Most people think they can see through obvious behavior. That is because we are conditioned to read intent.
Of course that is why “Con-Artists” can take advantage of us. Because we can’t see their intent. But for the most part we can tell when someone helps for the sake of helping versus when they expect something in return.
So just realize, that most people can see through you if your networking style is self-serving.
While some may be able to get away with selfish networking antics, most will not.
So no matter how big and connected your network is…you are not alone. Therefore, “The Way” in which you treat your network will go a long way with regards to the success you have networking.
A Version of this article originally posted on Millennial CEO and can be found here.