I want to tackle a slightly controversial topic.
Controversial because you may have heard the networking mantra of ‘Giver’s Gain’. This is a simple formula which says if you help others, they will feel indebted to you and be minded to return the favour. It’s a principle based on reciprocity.
Giver’s gain is often mentioned in the context of adopting a mindset when preparing for networking activity. As the theory goes, you should not attend an event armed with a wish list of what other people can do to help you. You should instead think about how you can help them.
For most of us, blowing our own trumpet is hard to do. Why? Well, from a very young age we may have been told; don’t boast, don’t show off, don’t stick your head above the parapet. After all, nobody likes a Smart Alec.
However, we can all think of people who seem to have the uncanny knack of getting their message across at the right time, in the right place, in the right way and to the people who matter; and they seem to be able to do this without an ounce of shame or self-criticism.
So what’s going on? When does authentic self-promotion spill over into bragging and hubris?
Well, despite the fact that in all societies there are rules or cultural norms which govern modesty, there are situations where boastful behaviour is tolerated without the individual being labelled a braggart.
As I think you know, one of my passions is people networking skills and how these can be developed. I feel that anyone can improve their networking skills through the application of simple, easy to learn techniques, whatever their beliefs, types or traits.
Networking should not be underestimated. It has applications in career management, finding mentors and, of course, business development and client relationship management.
Here are some of the questions that I find are focussing the minds of those contemplating face-to-face networking for the first time or looking to develop their skills further after a networking ‘gap’.
Before I invoke the wrath of the academic community, please let me explain. I’m not about to go off on the old hobby horse about ivory towers and dreaming spires. Believe me.
It’s an opportunity to get across the essence of you, your humanity and also your value-add, to anyone who might be interested in hiring you.
From this point of view it represents PRIME REAL ESTATE…
You know the feeling: you are due to attend the ultimate face to face networking opportunity. Industry leaders from your chosen field will be there. Potential employers will be there.
But there’s one thing holding you back. That knot in the pit of your stomach telling you you’ll make a complete mess of it, jeopardizing your chances of a successful career.
So let’s give ourselves the perfect recipe for handling these situations and make any nerves work to our advantage.
Whether a dog owner or not, you are probably familiar with the story of those who go along to the park and know the names of other dogs; but not the names of the owners!
Joking apart, animal ownership is a great networking tool.
‘Small talk’ is a vital part of face-to-face networking. It marks us out as a fully paid up member of the human race and social scientists have suggested that small talk (or even gossip) is the human equivalent of animals grooming each other in the wild.
So, what better way to engage the other person than to talk about your pet (dog, cat, chameleon, alpaca etc. etc.) and find that you have something in common?
There is something about the way that we are perceived by others when we are successful in making these connections.
So, next time you are out and about networking, why not give it a go?
* The late great John Weldon Cale passed away on July 26th 2013. According to his website: ‘He was a great lover of animals so, if you like, you can remember him with a donation to your favorite local animal shelter’.
** Lily is a six-year old Jack Russell cross. In another life (and in her dreams) she chases furry rodents for a living.