Networking is a process by which you can create meaningful business contacts and relationships to further your career and enhance your professional life.
It is unfortunate that many of us only become aware of the importance of networking when we first become unemployed. And then, many of us fall into our old bad habits of letting our hard won network go to seed when we find a golden “work opportunity,” quickly forgetting our two favorite mantras in The FENG.
1. All jobs are temporary.
2. You’re never working, you’re just between searches.
For those of you who are students of psychology, I’m sure you are familiar with “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” When you are stressed about a job search, you are at a survival level. Everything is about feeding the family. When everyone is looking to you for the food on the table and the cash to make the next mortgage payment, it is hard to think long term, and I am not asking you to.
What I am asking you to do is to think long term once you find that new job. And, as you move down the road towards that new job and regain your sense of self, I am asking you to develop a long term prospective on networking relationships. At the beginning of your search, networking may be a give and take. Others give and you take. But over time, you need to create a 50/50 relationship with those you meet.
As Julia Roberts screamed to Brad Pitt in the movie “The Mexican,” “It’s always about you!” Networking can’t always be about you and your needs. As you move up that Maslow pyramid you need to more and more make it about others and their needs.
The goal of networking is making LONG TERM relationships with an inner circle of friends and business associates who are always there to help you just as you are always there to help them.
As I have calmed down about my own networking requirements to support my business, The FECG, I spend less and less time at meetings I attend strictly pitching our services and more time asking others how I can help them. It is never easy to stay focused on the needs of others when your needs are paramount.
One of the greatest networking approaches I have every discovered is the power of introducing those you meet and like to your friends. It is the world’s best way to keep your network relationships fresh and to make new friends along the way to add to your network.
Everyone you meet has needs. Find out who they are and how you might be able to help them and mentally go through the list of everyone you know and find at least ONE person to introduce them to.
This is the real gold of networking. Every time you help someone lower on the Mazlow’s pyramid than you are, you climb higher.
When you’re no longer desperate, you really can’t beat it.