Whether you’re trying to find a job, a contact, a lead, or information, networking is a critical skill to learn. The ROI of networking is PRICELESS – if it leads to something. It is WORTHLESS if you don’t do anything with it. Most people use it the latter – collecting cards and names like a baseball card collection. If you look at it in the broadest perspective – you want to help them, and then they’ll want to help you – it can become a great tool.
You need to network knowing:
– What specific pieces you have to offer
– What you are looking for
– What you have to offer them.
First, you must know what you have to offer to have a worthwhile conversation. Start with the subject or two or three you want to emphasize. You can of course expand from there. So for a friend in communication, I’d say he has:
Social media maximization
PR that works
Communication that is crisp and clear
You decide what the 2, 3, or 4 topics are. DON’T DEVIATE FROM THEM! Can you do other things? Sure! But if you start listing everything you lose credibility. Let them ASK you if you can do something else. Just choose what you think are your best subjects and the ones where you most want to work.
Second, what do you want? Be as specific as possible, but don’t necessarily over reach. For example, “I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback on my … ideas, resume, dream job, etc.” versus “Can you get me a job? Can you give me all the information about…?” etc. The latter is over reaching, especially at first meeting someone. You need to develop the connection first. This is a big mistake people make on Linked In ALL the time – find a contact and ask them for a job or a lead. WRONG! Get to know them and see how you can help them and vice versa. Build both trust and the relationship.
Third, this goes exactly to this point. What do they need? How does knowing you help them? What can you give them? Cash is always good, but we’re talking here about the currency of knowledge, contacts, information, truly stuff that money may not be able to buy. Be very giving – it shows that you are worth trusting, worth friending, and worth helping.
Following these steps will yield an extremely high ROI for your networking time. Go get your just results!