Tip #2 of 10 Networking Tips

Offer Help To Others First

Most of us recognize that networking helps us find clients, partners, and sometimes, even great new opportunities, which is why doing more of it is often at the top of the New Year’s resolution lists for many professionals. And by exchanging contacts, ideas, information, and experiences we build mutually beneficial relationships that enrich our lives as well as those of others.

We often go to networking events with the sole goal of finding more clients or customers for our own businesses. However, rather than thinking about what’s in it for us the better approach is to focus on what’s in it for the other guy. In other words….we need to give before we ever expect to receive.

Giving to others is a key ingredient for success. As Zig Ziglar noted, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” When you offer help to others first, at the very least, you can count on creating a wealth of “pay it forward” karma. Most people are happy someone even thought of giving to them and odds are they will keep you in mind and look for ways to reciprocate down the road.

There are a variety of ways you can assist people. Think about areas where your own business could use improvement — chances are other people need help with the same things.

Here are some things you can do to help someone grow their business and connect with others:

  • Participate. If someone is running a crowdfunding campaign, contest, sweepstakes, or promotion, participate in their event and help promote it through your social media channels.
  • Newsletter/Website Promotions and Referrals. If you have a newsletter, offer to recommend or feature someone in your next issue. Or offer to do the same on your website.
  • Webinar and Podcasts Guest Spots. If someone is hosting webinars or podcasts, offer to be a guest. Both of you will benefit from this arrangement. They’ll get great content for their show and you’ll get more exposure.

    Oct '14 podcast interview w/Tom Libelt of Smart Brand Marketing titled, "How to Become a Super Connector with Sandy Jones-Kaminski."
    Oct 2014 Interview on Smart Brand Marketing podcast
  • Guest Blog Spots. Offer to write a guest post on someone else’s blog. This helps both of you. They’ll benefit from fresh content for their site while you’ll gain exposure. Sometimes, people get a lot of traffic to their website through being featured on just one major site.
  • Comments. Post a question on your site or in a LinkedIn status update or group that people will comment on, such as “What made you decide to choose the business you are in?” This gets others involved and gives them valuable exposure. Also, the points of view of these various people can provide you and your readers with worthy and unexpected insights.
  • Sponsor/Speaker. If someone is hosting an event, offer to be a sponsor or speaker. You’ll help their organization and yours as well.
  • Gratitude. Show your appreciation. Sending a nice thank-you note will deepen relationships within your network and their appreciation for you. Also, gratitude attracts more things to be grateful for. In addition, it replaces negative emotions like fear, jealousy, or anger—you can’t have these negative emotions while you’re feeling grateful.
  • Share Contacts. Think about what resources or people would benefit from those within your network of connections. Perhaps you are familiar with a tool that would help someone’s business (like, TimeTrade), or maybe you have a contact that would be a great partner for that person.
  • Gather information/Show interest. The best way to find out what someone really needs is to simply ask him or her directly. And, it’s true that some people are unsure of how to begin or don’t know how to continue a conversation after the first introductory remarks are exchanged. So, when thinking of probing questions that will clarify what someone needs help with, consider starting with Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

For example, if you are speaking to someone at an event, try asking questions such as:

  1. Who are your ideal (aka, sweet spot) clients?
  2. What services or products does your business provide?
  3. When did you establish your business?
  4. Where is your business based?
  5. Why did you choose to attend this particular event?
  6. How can I help you, or how might we work together?
  • Recommendations. Offering recommendations is one of the most powerful ways to give to someone and their business. When you recommend someone, you’re essentially helping to “sell” the person and their services. Many people attract the majority of their new business or clients through referrals. It doesn’t take much time to give a recommendation and there are a lot of easy ways to recommend people, including through LinkedIn or just an email. Furthermore, recommendations don’t require any advertising dollars and one recommendation can have a major impact on someone’s business.
  1. Write an unsolicited recommendation for a LinkedIn connection

Recommendations also help establish each participant in their respective field. They can also raise the credibility of both the recommender and the recommended and can even strengthen the relationship between them. In addition, the person you’ve been recommended to is often more receptive and prepared to work with you. As Mark Zuckerberg noted, “Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.”

Use caution with referrals and recommendations

Before connecting two people, however, be sure they’ll make a good match by writing what you’d tell them about each other as a draft. Be sure it makes sense and sounds mutually beneficial. You certainly don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Check with the people you’d like to connect to make sure this is something they want. And, of course, only recommend/refer people with whom you’ve had a positive experience.

To wrap this up, I hope you’ll consider keeping this perfect offer-help-to-others-first quote in mind:

For loads of other ways you can grow your brand, boost your business and/or generate new opportunities, be sure to register to get our newsletter full of the latest tips + practical advice for making your connections matter and get immediate access to our popular 15-step LinkedIn Profile Makeover tool. Get ready, your profile is going to shine!

10 Networking Tips to Boost Your Business: Tip #2 Offer Help to Others First
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