Several years ago, the Sunday Magazine in the Chicago Tribune ran an article featuring top networkers. The resounding message was that individuals who are considered at the top of their networking game are those who think first and foremost about what they can do for the other person. These networkers really did believe in building relationships and understood that solid relationships are two-way streets.
Unfortunately, many people go into networking like speed dating—handing out business cards like crazy and thinking, “Okay, what can this person do for me?” These quasi-networkers are only building relationships that will be gone as soon as their card is in the recipient’s drawer, or they are another professional contact on LinkedIn. Good networking requires these five traits:
- Focus: Your concern should be the individual with whom you’re talking, his/her interests and the types of help he/she could use.
- Questioning and listening skills: Many people you’ll meet will not do a good job of helping even the best networkers understand what they need. A good networker knows how to elicit information that’s meaningful and often helpful to the other individual in clarifying their own needs. Good networkers are also good listeners and will walk away with a lot of information about the individual to whom they’re talking.
- Creativity or the ability to connect the dots: Think about who you know or who a colleague knows. Who can provide help to the individual with whom you’re talking?
- Fearlessness: You need to take risks to be a good networker. You’re putting yourself and your network out there for others to use, and you may never see anything more from this contact.
- Faith: Most good networkers believe in the old adage that “what goes around comes around.” Don’t expect an equal exchange of help.
What else do you believe makes a good networker?