3 Golden Rules of Networking
Do you want to be a good relationship builder? Today, I will share with you my 3 golden rules of networking that hopefully will help you to gain perspective on relationship building.
Without further ado here are the 3 core mindsets that I use for networking:
1. Earn your right to ask.
This one is the major one. If you did not invest your time and energy in the relationship, and then knock on someone’s door asking for a favor, you gave that person zero incentive to work with you.
“I don’t know you. I don’t trust you. Why should I sacrifice my time for you?” these are the thoughts that are running through the head of the person who is reading your inmail/personalized note that you didn’t think through.
Some job hunters say, “But listen, I am jobless. I have nothing to give!”And that is simply not true. The most precious gift that one human being can give to another is a gift of time and undivided attention. Reprogram your mind to never work from a scarcity mindset. You have value, you have gifts to share — find them before you initiate a conversation.
People who are active on LinkedIn usually create content. Engage! Don’t connect, follow the person for some time. See what kind of content he/she creates — this can be a great conversation starter. Don’t be superficial, coming with a simple, “Hey! I like your content.” Explain what specifically resonates with you, show some thought. Deep thinking is your differentiator — intelligent people appreciate intelligent people, this is precisely how you will stand out.
Do not lead with the ask. Lead with value. Think service — think not “What can I gain from that interaction?” but “What can I give?” You might not always find an answer to this question, but you will vibrate at a frequency that will evoke empathy. Give more than you take and see the magic happen.
2. Respect the time of the other person.
This is how I go about time.
If you don’t respect my time, you don’t respect me.
That might sound harsh, but trust me, this is how all busy people in the world think about their time.
Time is the only resource that matters in our lives. It is the essence of life itself. If you knock on someone’s door and ask for their time, they hear: “Can I take a bite from your life?”
Some people won’t be so strict about it. Some will. Regardless, you should always think in terms of, “how can I maximize the efficiency of our interaction?”
I had people who said, “I appreciate you jumping right into business. I can tell you are trying to save me my time.” But I also met people who said, “I prefer to build a relationship first. Small talk, won’t hurt.” The truth is — we are all different people and we have a different relationship with time. But if you are a job hunter, it is our duty to develop that social intelligence muscle to promptly gauge who are you talking to and what communication style does that person prefers — “cut to the chase” or “let me get to know you” or something else entirely.
And to be good at that, we need to apply rule #3.
3. Exercise intellectual empathy.
Some people are natural empaths. They are just built that way — they can talk to people, absorb their emotional state, and experience what the other person is going through.
I am not like that. For me, and the likes of me, who are just by design have a limited aptitude for emotional empathy, there is only one option — we have to exercise intellectual empathy.
Intellectual empathy is a fancy name for the good old “put yourself in their shoes.” To be good at networking you need to get very good at running the thought experiments of how your interaction is perceived by the party on the other side of the table.
Think as they think. What are they trying to achieve in their work? What does success look like in their job? What are their challenges and pet peeves? (Chances are, they will like to talk about those) What makes them tick and what has to be said and how it has to be said to trigger a positive reaction? How would I like to be approached/talked to/closed if I were in their position?
Use those questions to polish your communication and social skills. If you learn how to study the situation from all angles, you will become a relationship-builder who lives a very long-lasting impression. And that is what important in relationship-building. We can’t spend a lot of time talking to people online, and as your network grows this gets even harder. But what we can do is to make sure that we make strategic touchpoints over time, and that all those touchpoints contribute and enrich the lives of the people we talk to. Quality over quantity. Always.
This might be not everything and there are always some small details but overall I would say follow and apply these simple 3 rules and they will put you in the top 5% of people who effectively network and build relationships on LinkedIn.
- Earn your right to ask
- Respect their time
- Put yourself in their shoes
Hope that helps you in your journey.