The Art of Giving: the Key to Effective Networking

November 19, 2009 at 7:03 pm 20 comments

With Thanksgiving and all the other holidays approaching, I though it would be an appropriate time to talk about a central tenant of effective networking – the “Art of Giving.”

An acquaintance of mine who is currently “in transition” (don’t you just love that euphemism!) recently called me to get together for coffee. Our meeting consisted mostly of him sharing the trials, tribulations and frustrations of his job search with me, him showing me his résumé for a critique, and him asking me for advice on who he should talk to, how to reach them, and how to answer certain application and interview questions. When the meeting ended, I had the distinct impression that it had been a one-way conversation … and when he asked if he could keep in touch, I politely said “sure” but privately thought “this guy just doesn’t get it!” The missing element in his approach to me was any attempt to give back or even ask if there was anything he could do for me. He was so wrapped up with his own problems and challenges that he made the meeting entirely about himself.

Now don’t get me wrong … I enjoy advising and counseling job-seekers, and I derive a great deal of satisfaction from helping others. However, if he thought that our meeting was supposed to establish a mutual networking “connection,” this guy totally missed the boat. He took, but did not give. Networking needs to be a 2-way exchange where both parties feel they are benefiting from the relationship. Otherwise, there’s a danger that one person will simply feel that they are being used.

Make your meetings about the other person. This principle of focusing on giving as much as receiving doesn’t just apply to job-seeking. It crosses over into consultative sales calls, prospecting for leads, business networking, and almost every imaginable social and interpersonal relationship. It’s important to ask “How can I help you?” Explore the other person’s needs, challenges, or issues of importance. Look for ways to help solve their problems. Above all, be a good listener. Then extend yourself and give!

So, how can a job-seeker help an employed person or a decision-maker they are meeting / networking with? The simple act of asking “Is there anything I can do for you, or anyone I can introduce you to?” is a great way to start. Offer to introduce the other person to contacts in your network that are appropriate to their position. Offer to write the person a LinkedIn recommendation. Ask if there any challenges they are facing that you might be able to help with. Offer to lend your specific expertise in any way you can. It may turn out that you actually can’t help them … but as it is often said regarding gift-giving, it’s the thought that counts!

Following up with your contacts through regular emails or phone calls is a critical part of effective networking – but again, remember to make those follow-ups as much about giving as taking. Don’t just remind the person that you are looking for a job and ask for their help. Follow-up with introductions you can make that might help that other person. Send them articles that might be of interest to that person based on your conversations. Send them links to websites or blogs that connect to their specific interests, needs or challenges. GIVE BACK!

In the end, the more you give, the more you’ll receive. (Sounds kind of like a Beatles lyric, eh?!) It’s really true: the people who take the time to help and give to others are the ones who are the most likely to receive the type of help, introductions, and insider tips that they are seeking, which will ultimately help them achieve their goals.

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Entry filed under: Advice for Job Seekers. Tags: , , .

Targeted Networking: How to Effectively Reach Out Age Discrimination: Secret Conversations Revealed!

20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debi W.  |  November 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I love you, Michael. You’re right on…you get it! What can I do to help YOU? If you don’t mind, I’m sharing your message with others….

    Happy Thanksgiving! And YOU are the blessings I thank God for.

    Reply
  • 2. Michael Sigler  |  November 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Michael – Excellent posting. Sometimes it seems crazy reaching out and focusing on helping the other person but you know, good things come back to those who behave unselfishly. We’re all in this together.

    Reply
  • 3. Anne Hydock  |  November 20, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Well put, Michael. It truly is important to give back and it reinforces the business relationship.

    Reply
  • 4. Ron Weisinger  |  November 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Michael, you really do get it and you have a wonderful way of sharing your wisdom. I’ve referred scores of people to your musings.

    Regarding the euphemism “in transition,” I prefer to use “pre-employed.” If a car can be pre-owned and a mortgage can be pre-approved then we can certainly be “pre-employed!”

    Reply
  • 5. Hugh Sawyer  |  November 22, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Dead on comments and, in my networking experience, most people either don’t know the optimal networking steps or don’t execute them. And of course the most important step is to make a good impression by being a listener and a giver.
    That being said, it is important to remember that some people will act quite a bit differently when they no longer have their regular working routine and regular paycheck. In fact, they may be more ready for counseling than networking!

    Reply
  • 6. Dan Miller  |  November 23, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Michael, great article! I concur 100% with your posting. In my search, I have found that perhaps only 30% of the unemployed I meet truly understand that it should be a “give first” conversation.

    Employed people are being asked to network “ad nauseum” and many employers have curtailed their ability and time help others. With these individuals especially…you need to show them value before asking for help.

    Reply
  • 7. Dave Kourtz  |  November 23, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Excellent posting. Your comments are on target for anyone doing networking for job search. I’ll be recommending your blog to others so they can better understand the “mutual benefit’ that is so critical to creating and maintaining a network.

    Reply
  • 8. Billy Conrad  |  November 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I read most of your blog, Michael. Thanks so much. I’m taking in all the advice I can.

    Reply
  • 9. Lori Stagliano  |  November 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for the informative posts Michael.

    Reply
  • 10. Thomas James Dodd  |  November 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Michael: Thank you for this type of “always timely” post. It was very pertinent, especially for me. Just today, in my networking discussions, I nearly got carried away with my own story – – twice! I finally shut up and was happy to hear what the other person had to share and how I might help them. Thank you for this uncommon wisdom, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    Reply
  • 11. Sameer Khullar  |  November 24, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Hi Michael, very pertinent post. Only mutually beneficial associations can be of a long term nature. Sometimes even an effort at trying to help the other person in genuine thought can be enough.

    Reply
  • 12. Dale Hukill  |  November 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Michael, you are right on about giving. Networking starts to really work when you stop worring about your own situation and start being truly interested in the other person.
    Thanks for the great perspective.

    Reply
  • 13. Barb Bos  |  November 27, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Michael, Thank you for your ‘Right On’ article. SO very appropriate at this time, but also very meaningful and thought provoking. I have been in situations with a ‘friend’ and all that person did was talk about herself. Such a contrast to a genuine friendship where both are helping each other.

    Thanks again. Keep writing.

    Reply
  • 14. Jantz Ronica  |  November 28, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Wow people, it is Thanksgiving Day! I’m enjoying my extra day off, and I am planning to doing something fun that’ll probably involve a car trip and seeing something new in Sun Lakes I haven’t seen yet.
    You write something new at Thanksgiving?

    Reply
  • 15. Jim Norbuta  |  November 28, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for a well written commentary on our social networking. There’s good advise for everyone here.

    In a previous position with the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland, my responsibilities included teaching networking to our members. It was amazing to see that those who “got it” were or became the successful businesses.

    My Dad gave me a book to read prior to my interviewing for my first sales position: Dale Carnegie’s “HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE”. It still applies 60 years later.

    Reply
  • 16. Nancy marinin  |  November 28, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Michael:
    You are a great writer and and your articles are so true. It is more important to give then take. I have always believed in giving and thinking of others before myself. I wish you a great Thanksgiving.
    Best Regards,
    Nancy Marinin

    Reply
  • 17. Teresa Rodriguez  |  December 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Great advice for networking in person! Your post actually gave me some ideas in regards to what I can say in invitations to add LinkedIn connections that I don’t know. I read another discussion today regarding this topic and I was having trouble verbalizing “what I can do for you” since I am a “newbie” to LinkedIn and to networking, in general. Thanks for sharing.

    Teresa

    Reply
  • 18. Tish Cabrera  |  December 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Michael, great article. And great reminder to all of us of the importance of networking being a 2-way street. As someone who is currently spending a lot of time networking and simply reaching out to my contacts to hear the latest buzz on industry news, including possible job opportunities, the importance of your message (“return the favor”) is very timely and relevant.

    Reply
  • 19. Shwetha  |  January 5, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Michael: I have been reading all your articles. They are all wonderful. I came to know the significance of effective networking and effective job search. They are not only useful for job search, but also for professional and personal growth. I have been learning a lot from articles and trying to follow them. But, as Teresa said, I am also having trouble with “what I can do for you” as, I am also new to networking. Thank you very much for enlightening us on effective networking.

    Shwetha

    Reply
  • 20. Bob Koveleskie  |  January 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    …and be so good they can’t afford to deny you. Bob Koveleskie

    Reply

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Michael Spiro

About the Author:

Michael Spiro has been a 3rd-Party Recruiter and Account Executive for over 15 years. He is currently the Director of Recruiting / NE Ohio Region for Experis Finance, a dedicated business unit of ManpowerGroup. Other recent positions include President of Midas Recruiting, a boutique head-hunting firm, and Director of Talent at Patina Solutions, a professional services firm that deploys professionals with at least 25 or more years of experience. Prior to that, he worked for two of the largest search firms in North America. Before his career in the staffing industry, Michael was a manager in a large non-profit social-services organization. And in a former life, Michael was active in the entertainment industry, with extensive road-warrior experience as a touring performer (singer-songwriter / guitarist / comedian) and as a recording artist, producer and booking agent.  [More...]

Index (by Topic):

Résumés & Cover Letters:
 The "T" Cover Letter - The
         Only Type Worth Sending

 The Brutal Truth on How
         Résumés Get Eliminated

 Explaining Short Job Stints
         and Employment Gaps

 The Résumé Test &
         Checklist: Does Yours
         Pass?

 Beating the Résumé-
         Elimination Game: Where
         Do Recruiters' Eyes Go?

Networking:
 How to Network: A
         Step-by-Step Guide for
         Job Searching

 Looking for Networking in
         All the Wrong Places

 Targeted Networking: How
         to Effectively Reach Out

 The Art of Giving: the Key to
         Effective Networking

Interviewing:
 Face-to-Face Interviews:
         Secrets, Tricks and Tips

 Phone Interviews: Secrets,
         Tricks and Tips

 Skype Interview Tips ...
         Welcome to the Future!

 Nuggets: A Secret
         Interviewing Technique

 Answering the Dreaded
         Salary Question

 20 Surefire Ways to Blow
         an Interview

 "So, Do You Have Any
         Questions?" Nailing the
         Interview Closer

 Cool InfoGraphic: "What
         You Wish You'd Known
         Before Your Job
         Interview"

Age Discrimination:
 Age Discrimination: Secret
         Conversations Revealed

 Age Discrimination:
         Exposing Inconvenient
         Truths

 Are You "Overqualified?"
         Handling the Age Issue

 Baby Boomers to the
         Rescue! An Idea Whose
         Time Has Come ...

 Overcoming Job-Search
         Obstacles and
         Redefining Your Career
         After 50

Switching Jobs:
 The Proper Way to
         Quit a Job

 Counteroffers: Just Say No!

General Job-Seeking Info:
►  Let the Jobs Find You:
         Making Yourself More
         "Searchable"

 "Help ... I Need a Job!" A
         9-Step Guide for Newly
         Minted Job-Seekers

 Contract/Consulting Jobs
         Explained ... Available in
         3 Different Flavors

 The Real Truth About
         Working with Recruiters

 Avoiding the "Black Hole
         of HR"

 Is Your Elevator Pitch
         Taking You UP
         or DOWN?

 Advice for Recent Grads
         and Career-Changers

 Time Management: Recipe          for a Well-Balanced Job          Search
 Getting Un-Stuck from your
         Rut!

 The Double-Whammy of
         Rejection and Isolation

 "Unemployed Need Not
         Apply" - Working Around
         This Scary Message

 Using Social Media to
         Enhance Job-Searching

 Warning: That Rant You
         Posted Just Went Viral!

 The Golden Rule: Never
         Burn Bridges

 The Power of a Positive
         Attitude

 Why Job Hunting is a
         Consultative Sales
         Position

 Top 10 Most Helpful Things
         for Job Seekers

 Top 10 Most Annoying
         Things for Job Seekers

 New Year's Resolutions for
         Unemployed Job-
         Seekers

Job-Seeking Humor:
 Comic Relief: Volume 1
 Comic Relief: Volume 2
 Comic Relief: Volume 3
 Comic Relief: Volume 4
 Comic Relief: Volume 5
 Comic Relief: Volume 6
 "In Transition" and Other
         Awkward Euphemisms

 Candidates Gone Wild:
         Recruiter Horror Stories

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Recent Posts:

Previous Posts (by Date):

►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 4

------------------------------------------
►  "Unemployed Need Not Apply" -
      Working Around This Scary
      Message

------------------------------------------
►  Explaining Short Stints and
      Employment Gaps

------------------------------------------
►  The Lost Art of Customer
      Service: Unreturned Phone
      Calls & Emails

------------------------------------------
►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 3

------------------------------------------
►  The Résumé Test & Checklist:
      Does Yours Pass?

------------------------------------------
►  The "T" Cover Letter -
      The Only Type Worth Sending

------------------------------------------
►  The Brutal Truth on how
      Résumés Get Eliminated

------------------------------------------
►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 2

------------------------------------------
►  Age Discrimination: Exposing
      Inconvenient Truths

------------------------------------------
►  The Double-Whammy of
      Rejection and Isolation

------------------------------------------
►  Is Your “Elevator Pitch” Taking
      You UP or DOWN?

------------------------------------------
►  Comic Relief: Job-Seeking
      Humor - Volume 1

------------------------------------------
►  Warning: That Rant You
      Posted Just Went Viral!

------------------------------------------
►  Using Social Media to Enhance
      Job-Searching

------------------------------------------
►  Avoiding the “Black Hole
      of HR”

------------------------------------------
►  “In Transition” and Other
      Awkward Euphemisms

------------------------------------------
►  Getting Un-Stuck from
      your Rut!

------------------------------------------
►  Time Management: Recipe for a
      Well-Balanced Job Search

------------------------------------------
►  Face-to-Face Interviews:
      Secrets, Tips and Tricks

------------------------------------------
►  Counteroffers: Just Say No!
------------------------------------------
►  The Proper Way to Quit a Job
------------------------------------------
►  The Real Truth About Working
      with Recruiters

------------------------------------------
►  Phone Interviews:
      Secrets, Tricks and Tips

------------------------------------------
►  The Golden Rule: Never Burn
      Bridges

------------------------------------------
►  Candidates Gone Wild:
      Recruiter Horror Stories

------------------------------------------
►  Following-Up: An Essential
      Key to Success

------------------------------------------
►  Nuggets: A Secret Interviewing
      Technique

------------------------------------------
►  New Year’s Resolutions for
      Unemployed Job-Seekers

------------------------------------------
►  How to Network: A Step-by-
      Step Guide for Job-Searching

------------------------------------------
►  Top 10 Most Helpful Things for
      Job-Seekers

------------------------------------------
►  Top 10 Most Annoying Things
      for Job-Seekers

------------------------------------------
►  Age Discrimination: Secret
      Conversations Revealed!

------------------------------------------
►  The Art of Giving: The Key to
      Effective Networking

------------------------------------------
►  Targeted Networking: How to
      Effectively Reach Out

------------------------------------------
►  Why Job Hunting is a
      Consultative Sales Position

------------------------------------------
►  The Power of a Positive
      Attitude

------------------------------------------
►  Looking for Networking in
      All the Wrong Places

------------------------------------------
►  Answering the Dreaded Salary
      Question

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