It is always difficult to explain why you trust someone.
In our daily encounters out in the world we come across all kinds of folks. Most of the individuals we do business with on a daily basis don’t have to be our friends, and the nature of the exchanges we have with them don’t even require that we trust them. As an example: purchasing gas. As long as we can bring ourselves to trust the gas station attendant not to pour the gas into the back seat of our car, there isn’t really much at risk. And, since we probably put this exchange on our credit card, there is no possibility that the value received isn’t the amount we paid. The only trust element, if you will, is that the station you have selected prices their products consistently with respect to their competition.
To be an effective networker requires an understanding and appreciation of how trust is created. While the process may begin with an illusion, (any excuse will do to make a call), to be effective it needs to end with a perception of reality.
When networking within The FENG, a trust relationship is easily started just by just mentioning that you are a fellow member of our august body. It can then be furthered by developing sound “reasons why” you have contacted this particular member. Perhaps they worked at firms where you have worked, attended the same schools, live in the same town, or belong to the same special interest group.
Contacting individuals to network has as one of its purposes being introduced to others. How extensive and how important the subsequent referrals are depends on your ability to present yourself as a trustworthy person.
Relationships and trust take time to build. The approach I suggest is something I call “asking for the world’s smallest favor that you know will be granted.” For example, asking a networking contact if they know a few recruiters that they might recommend. Recruiters don’t have much value, and the likelihood that you will “burn” your networking contact is small. It is an easy favor to grant. Now that you have them granting you favors, you can ask for more.
Asking for an introduction to a boss, however, requires a tremendous leap of faith. To be granted “three wishes” along these lines would be too much to ask based on what is in reality a cold call by a stranger, and it certainly isn’t something to be asked on a first call.
Understanding the importance to the individual you are asking to help you of each of his/her contacts to his/her future career will help you focus on what you can and can’t ask. To ask for a favor not likely to be granted will ensure that no future favors are ever granted.
So, the best approach is to go slowly in building your level of trust with each networking contact.
The difference between illusion and reality in the world of personal relationships is often hard to distinguish. You are the magician. If you do your hocus pocus well, you will get the best out of those hard to make new friends and build a solid base for the future.