How can I help you? And how can you help me? Networking is a two-way street and having a great network should be a mutually beneficial relationship. It feels good to help others and it also feels good to receive support.
When articulating how you can help others and the help you need, it’s best to be specific. One of my favorite anecdotes goes like this.
If one of your friends has a baby, you may tell her, “Let me know how I can help. I will do anything.” But strangely, she never asks you to do anything.
However, if you were to say, “I would love to drop off dinner for you on Tuesday around 6 pm. How many people should I bring food for? Would be okay?” And she’ll often say, “Oh yes, thank you. That would be great.” Or “Thank you. Tuesday we already have dinner coming but next Thursday would be awesome.”
It’s easy to say “yes” when it’s a specific question. So, what does that look like for networking?
Potential ways you can help others:
– If they are job hunting, ask what they are looking for and offer to put them in touch with people you know at that company or in that industry. Or sharing a good networking group for them.
– If they are an entrepreneur, can you purchase a product/service from them or refer friends to them?
– If they are looking to expand their network, invite them to an upcoming networking event with you. It’s easier to show up knowing one person instead of going into an event full of strangers.
Potential ways you can ask for help:
– Asking for advice: “I’m search for a in . Would you have any advice for me to get my resume to the top of the pile?”
– Asking for a favor: “I see that you are connected to XXX at XXX. I recently applied for a job there, would you be willing to introduce me to them?”
Asking for support: “I’ve started my company. Social Media Engagement from follows, likes, and comments will help my content be seen by more people. Would you be willing to give me a follow and feedback on my posts?”