To Succeed at Networking, You Need This Effective Attitude

We all know that networking can be valuable, even essential, in attracting business, generating leads, getting a new job, improving our knowledge and skills and building better internal company relationships.

Yet, do we really know and understand what makes for effective networking? Jan Vermeiren does and says it starts with adopting a Networking Attitude.

Vermeiren is the founder of Networking Coach and the author of Let’s Connect! and How to REALLY Use LinkedIn as well as a consultant to companies including Deloitte, DuPont, IBM, ING, SAP and Sun Micro Systems.

He describes the Networking Attitude as “Sharing information in a reactive and proactive way without expecting anything immediately in return.”

Vermeiren then elaborates on these key elements of that attitude:

Information refers to both very general and very specific knowledge. In a professional environment, “information” can be a job opening, a sales lead, a new supplier or employee, opportunities for partnership, interesting training courses or tips to work more efficiently.

Sharing involves two parties. Networking is not a one-way street, but a two or more-way boulevard. It’s always about a win-win situation in which all parties are satisfied. What’s important in this concept is that you’re comfortable with both giving help and making requests.

In a reactive and proactive way means you first offer information or help when you’re asked to do so (reactive). But it goes farther than that. You can send people valuable and pertinent information, and connect them to each other, without asking them to do this (proactive). But of course, make sure that you don’t SPAM. An effective and simple approach would be to let them know that you have this information and that you are willing to share it.

Without expecting anything immediately in return. In this era of short-term benefits, it’s not a concept that’s immediately embraced by everybody. Let me also stress it is NOT about giving your products and services away. It is about everything else. What is your attitude when dealing with people? Though it may be hard for some people, this is the one attitude that works best in the long run. This builds trust and makes you more “attractive” to other people.

By giving without expecting anything immediately in return, you will eventually receive much more than your initial “investment.”

Remember that networking is a long-term game that always involves two or more players. You reap what you’ve sown. So start sowing (sharing), so that you can reap more and faster!