Years ago, a new contact of mine wrote the following in an email, “One of my favorite activities is extending a helping hand to new friends and colleagues. Please let me know where I can help you in your business or networking efforts.”
We were not well connected in fact we barely knew each other however the offer above is one of my favorite examples of lean forward networking.
Today the social media crowd calls it participating. Participating is obviously not lurking and never saying anything but it is also not broadcasting. If you speak more then you listen then you are not interacting and hence are not networking.
Try sending an email with the line, “How can I be of aid to you?”
Powerful words and if you think not, try typing an active invitation like that at the bottom of a few emails. You naturally will hesitate and think of the obligation those words place upon you. We all tend to focus on our needs and often forget to listen or better yet seek out how we might be of aid to others.
Networking is a lean forward activity and the fruits of the endeavor will not come to those who stand on the sidelines or stick to doing just what they are paid or commissioned to do. It is not enough to be known. 10,000 followers on Linkedin or the social networking tool of your choice does not make you a good networker. To be good you must actively get involved and seek ways to aid those in your network and not merely wait to be asked.
Why bother you may ask, after all you are moderately to very successful in what you do. Perhaps you are honestly to busy trying to get by day to day to add one more thing to your plate. So why should you put yourself out there unless the return on investment is assured? Simply put no matter what you think you will get out of truly networking with others you will get more then you expect out of the bargain.
As they say you have to spend money to make money and in the same vein there is lean forward networking. Opportunities do not come to those who are unwilling to engage. You must be willing to open dialog with everyone and offer your aid as much is possible.
In truth, you can be of aid to anyone in any matter even if that is only to help them take one small step further on the path to their goal.