Number 1 Networking Secret: Pay It Forward

As a career mentor, I’m always looking for solid career advice to pass on to my subscribers. A while back, I read an article in the 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, you will have to expect a background check service done one you.

Relationships are the key to landing your dream job and climbing the corporate ladder.  My friends at People Finders are good at helping you build your network by finding people with whom you should connect.

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

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 some of the career advice in this essay 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.

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.

The career advice in 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?”

The career mentor 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. “Pay it forward. Build relationships by giving with no expectation of return. Give of yourself to build strong relationships.” (Tweet 127) “When meeting someone new ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ You’ll build stronger relationships by thinking this way.” (Tweet 128) 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.

That’s my best advice on networking. What’s do you think? 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: You can download a free copy of Success Tweets and its companion piece, Success Tweets Explained at When you do, I’ll begin sending you daily motivational quotes and give you a free membership in my career mentoring site.



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