Steps to Networking – Step 18: Helping

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 4th, 2010

STEP 18: Helping

“Helping is the best form of networking,” Stephen Burgay, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for John Hancock Financial Services advises. “The key to building a network is establishing good relationships with your network members. You need to get to know them and wherever possible, help them out long before you need them to help you.” If you help, those you helped will pick up your call and they will be more willing to assist you.

The ideal time to build your network is when you are in a position to help others and you don’t need their help. Or as President John F. Kennedy advised, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” Burgay calls this “implicit networking” because you have no agenda. In contrast, “explicit networking is when you have an agenda such as needing a job, wanting to change jobs or being on the move.”

Implicit networking builds good will and can position you for tomorrow. Help others whenever you can because it might motivate them to assist you when you need help. For example, if you have a job, assist whomever you can and don’t worry about receiving anything from them in return. If you lose your job, you may want to call upon those you helped. Had you not helped them, they may be less inclined to assist you since you’re no longer in power. However, they may fulfill your request in gratitude for past favors. Usually, you need networking most when you’re no longer in a position of power. So give early to build relationships that transcend changes in your circumstances.

To build your network, give your product or perform your service for free to the right people. Establish yourself by not charging important contacts, those who can launch your career. Write it off to good will; consider it an investment. Usually, people are more willing to try things that are free and will remember when they receive something of value, especially when it comes at no cost. The object is to get your product or service out there, to let its quality speak for itself and to impress those who are in a position to help. If it’s really good, your contacts will spread the word and endorse you, your product or service.

Give generously and gladly. Give more, not less, than is expected. Don’t just fill expectations — exceed them — exceed them beyond your contact’s hopes. Give your all. Build a reputation for generosity and magnanimousness; make the grand gesture. Never give resentfully or sullenly as if your arm was being twisted; always be gracious. Don’t brag or broadcast your generosity to others or repeatedly remind those you helped of your largesse.

Be generous in spirit and deed and, when possible, be anonymous. Create an example of generosity that others will admire and be encouraged to follow. Giving generously and gladly can create a circle of helping, giving and sharing that will assist others and that you can remain a part of long after your power and influence have waned.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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