How to Network for Career Success

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article on the front page of the Sunday Denver Post Business Section titled “Few Bites Pop Up on Web; Link Up in Person.”  My response – “duh.”  Common sense says that you can’t find a job sending resumes out into cyberspace and hoping to generate interviews.  Relationships are the key to generating job leads and your life and career success.

The best way to land interviews is through your professional network.  Hiring managers will always give more consideration to the resumes they receive from people they trust instead of those that come via job boards. 

I have a large network, and am considered a good judge of character.  Every week, one or two people in my network contact me to ask me to help them filling their open positions.  People I recommend almost always generate interviews, and many of them land new jobs.  It’s in your best interest to build and nurture your professional network.

My best career advice on networking may seem to be counter intuitive at first.  Most people network to see who can help them.  I always tell my career success coach clients to do the opposite.  Network to see who you can help.  Let me say that again.  When you network, think who you can help, rather than who can help you.

Tweet 128 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “When meeting someone new ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help this person?’  You’ll build stronger relationships by thinking this way.”  Relationships are the key to networking, and networking is the key to generating interviews.

In 2009 I participated in a writing project with my colleagues at the Creating WE Institute.  We published a little book called, 42 Rules for Creating WE.  The rules were short essays that contained a lot of great career advice.  I contributed three rules.  One was called, “There is No Quid Pro Quo in WE.” 

I’d like to share the career advice in this essay – with a few minor edits – with you here, because it goes to the idea of building a strong network of people who can help you when you are conducting a job search.

WE is built on relationships; the idea that we are all connected, and that through a WE-centric, rather than a traditional I-centric approach, our collective wisdom grows and evolves.  This kind of thinking creates stronger organizations and societies.  It fosters mutual shared respect for the unique contribution every person is capable of making.  Solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are at the core of WE.  Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to create these types of relationships.

This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you.  While there is nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo.  It is reactive not proactive.  Too many people wait for others to go first.  They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.”  This scarcity mentality is not conducive to creating WE, or building strong relationships.  When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have.  This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.

On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality.  When you give with no expectation of return, you are acknowledging the abundance of the universe.  You are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large – and that good things will come back to you.

Giving with no expectation of return is ironic.  I have found that the more I give, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources.  But that’s not my reason for giving – and I hope it is not yours.  The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in creating a WE-centric world.

Giving without expectation of return not only helps you create a WE-centric culture, it helps you build strong partnerships.  Larry Agresto is a WE-centric guy.  He says, “Truly successful people never compete, they network and leverage their relationships by providing value and giving more than they receive.”

In the end, giving with no expectation of return comes down to your mentality – scarcity or abundance.  If you come from a scarcity mentality, you will live by quid pro quo, and perpetuate the I-centric status quo.  If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create a WE-centric world and create the kind of strong, mutually beneficial relationships that will help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

I choose abundance and paying it forward.  I agree with Winston Churchill, who once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”  When you give with no expectation of return you will get a good life.  You’ll also get a better world; one in which we all look out for one another.

This essay goes to the point I made above about building your network by giving, not taking.  As tweet 128 in Success Tweets suggests, when you meet someone new as yourself, “What can I do to help this person?”  In yesterday’s post, I did something for someone I just met, Craig Delarge.  I did it because I liked Craig when I met him.  And, I think he really has something to offer.  I am now in Craig’s network.  He is in mine.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people are adept at building strong relationships.  They understand and use the career advice in Tweets 127 and 128 in Success Tweets.  127 — “Pay it forward.  Build relationships by giving with no expectation of return.  Give of yourself to build strong relationships.”  128  —  “ When meeting someone new ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ You’ll build stronger relationships by thinking this way.”  Strong relationships are the basis of an effective network.  Paying it forward is the opposite of quid pro quo.  When you go first – give of yourself to help someone else, with no expectations of return – you are laying the foundation for a successful relationship.  When you wait to reciprocate a good deed by another person, you are engaging in quid pro quo behavior that can result in lost relationship and networking opportunities.  Do yourself a favor, follow this career advice when it comes to relationship building – pay it forward.  Build your network by helping others.

That’s my best common sense career advice on networking.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of common sense career advice explaining each of the tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.

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