The Key to Effective Networking? Pay It Forward

As your career mentor, I’m always looking for solid career advice to pass on to you. 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. Relationships are the key to landing your dream job and climbing the corporate ladder.

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.

I tell my career mentoring clients that 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.” Here’s the gist of that essay. 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 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.

Or, as Tweet 128 suggests, when you meet someone new think not how he or she can help you, but how you can help him or her.

The career mentor point here is simple common sense. Successful people are adept at building strong relationships. They pay it forward. They build relationships by giving with no expectation of return. They give of themselves to build strong relationships. When they meet someone new they ask themselves, “What can I do to help this person?” They build strong relationships by thinking this way. Strong relationships are the basis of an effective network. Paying it forward is the opposite of quid pro quo and the best way to build strong relationships. 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 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 musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download free copies of my career success books Success Tweets and Success Tweets Explained. The first is a tweets book focusing on life and career success. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of common sense career advice explaining each of the tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go here to claim your free copies. You’ll also begin receiving my daily motivational quotes.

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  1. Magnificent site. Plenty of useful information here.

    I’m sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And of course, thank you for your sweat!

  2. Thanks for your kind works Lottie.

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