Many people are turned off by the topic of networking. They think it’s slimy, inauthentic. Picture the consummate networker: a high-energy fast talker who collects as many business cards as he can and attends mixers sporting slicked-back hair. Or the overambitious college kid who frantically e-mails alumni, schmoozes with the board of trustees, and adds anyone he’s ever met as an online friend. Such people are drunk on networking Kool-Aid — and are looking at a potentially nasty hangover.
Luckily for lawyers, networking doesn’t have to be like that. Traditional networking is all about relationships.
Old-school networkers are transactional. They pursue relationships thinking solely about what other people can do for them. Relationship builders, on the other hand, try to help others first. They don’t keep score. And they prioritize high-quality relationships over a large number of connections.
The keys to building relationships through networking are two-fold per Hoffman.
- See the world from the person’s perspective. It’s only when you put yourself in the other person’s shoes that you begin to develop an honest connection.
- Think about how you can collaborate with and help the other person, rather than thinking about what you can get. You need not be so saintly that a self-interested thought never crosses your mind, but your first move should always be to help.
Start with a friendly gesture and genuinely mean it. Just as in negotiations, search for shared interests and ask questions of the other person.
When networking through the Internet, whether blogging or using LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, keep these simple concepts of networking in mind.
Networking is something people have done for hundreds of years. The Internet did not change the value of networking nor the concepts of networking.