You're busy networking (or at least should be). You're trying to hook up with that mentor, find a connection to get a job, get to know a company better, and so on. You spend a lot of time connecting and schmoozing and getting to know people.
So, are you giving anything back?
Networking should never be selfish. I'm not saying you're being selfish, but sadly it's easy to fall into the trap of just thinking about ourselves. We're often taught to network only in a crisis or only to get something, and that sadly pushes us into the selfishness zone.
Me, I go out of my way to try to do good for people in networking, both because it's what I like to do, and because it works. So, if you're worried you might be getting a bit self-centered in your networking, take a moment now and then to ask yourself if you can do these non-selfish things.
- Can you make someone look good? Can you leave a LinkedIn recommendation, act as a reference, recommend their book, and so on? Go on and see if you can (properly and appropriately) give someone an image boost.
- Can you make connections? Can you connect two people who should be connected? That way you may help one or both of them out.
- Can you match jobs for people? Is your company hiring, and can you go out of your way to find people in your network that fit the jobs?
- Can you answer a question, be a mentor, or otherwise pass on skills and knowledge?
Here's what I want you to do. Once a week, for the next month, when you're doing your usual networking (you do take time each week, right?), ask yourself how you can do one of the four items in that list that week. Find how your networking can benefit someone else.
You'll be surprised how easily it becomes habitual, how much better your networking is, and how much better you like yourself.
– Steven Savage