The value of networking is obvious. Surround yourself with successful people and it’s easier for you to be successful as well. Unfortunately, the benefits of networking are often squandered as people pursue relationships with selfish motives. To help you avoid that fate, here are three things you can do to grow your network the right way, right now.
1. Shift your mindset
The real goal of networking is to help other people. It’s much easier to build quality relationships when you help others achieve their goals instead of telling them about yours. Sure, it would be great if they put in a good word for you every now and then, but asking for favors should only become a possibility once you have provided value to them.
How to use this tip today: Instead of thinking about who you need to know, think about who you can help. How can you provide value to someone today?
2. Be more selective with your time
From time to time, most of us will go on a networking spree. We get motivated and start e-mailing hundreds of people, set up social networking accounts, and head out to local networking events. It’s fine to get motivated from time to time, but trying to be everywhere at once is going to wear you out. Furthermore, it’s tough to give people the attention they deserve when you’re spread so thin.
Instead of trying to be all things to all people, focus on being more things to a few of them. After all, you don’t need to know the most people…just the right people.
3. Actually engage with your current network
We often think about networking as a way to build new relationships, but engaging with your current contacts can be just as powerful—if not more so.
Think about all of the people you already have a warm relationship with. You know what they like and dislike. You know what skills they have and what problems they face. You might even know the names of their children. Think about how valuable all of those relationships would be if you simply strengthened them.
How to use this tip today: Engaging with your current network is all about providing value. You already know their problems. You’re aware of their interests. Now you just need to take action. Are there two people in your network that might like to know each other? Introduce them. Have your employees been struggling with a simple problem? Help them find a solution.