The Best Networking Tip I Ever Learned

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When it comes to networking, most people are familiar with the two simple tips to carry business cards in your right pocket and collect other attendees’ cards in your left, and wear your name tag on the upper right side of your chest.

Although these tips may be handy and I could probably come up with 5 more similar ideas like volunteer at the event, ask open-ended questions, remember to smile, keep records of who you meet, and followup with a short email. But networking is so much more than this.

Simply put, networking is about helping others.

It’s not about schmoozing and looking to see what’s in it for you. It’s about meeting the needs of others.

A fellow conference attendee summarized this beautifully for me on our ride home from a conference. She explained that each year she chooses a word that she lives up to. It could be grace, forgiveness, kindness — well, anything really. Her word for this year? Give.

Giving is not limited to finances. She may give a word of encouragement, give a helping hand, or give up her time to talk with a person.

This is networking at its core. It’s not selfish or self-centered. It’s meeting other people and asking yourself, “How can I help them?”

Years ago I was asked to review Boomy Tookan’s book, New Year’s Resolutions: The Guide to Getting It Right — Why Many New Year Resolutions Fail Within 30 Days. I found the nugget of genius in the last chapter.

He titled the chapter, “What Will You Do For Others.” What was the nugget that changed my life?

“The way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want.”

Yes! This is the secret to networking.

Tookan writes, “I learnt many years ago that the way to think about how much you want to earn is to think about how much you want to give. Yes; the amount of money you want to give away should be your first thought.”

Jeff Goins puts it this way, “It’s not what you know. It’s not who you know. It’s who you help.”

It’s simply the principle of sowing and reaping. I believe the Bible may have a thing or two to say on this topic.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV).”

So if you’re looking to network more this year, start with looking at who you can help.

(First featured on Medium platform January 1, 2021)

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