Let’s be honest: It’s easy to forget people you’ve met while networking. Most of us don’t have photographic memories and, while we’d like to remember everyone we’ve come into contact with, it just isn’t practical. Those in leadership positions have an even harder time. With so many interactions and so many requests, they can all start blending together.
So how do you set yourself apart when networking? How do you make a lasting impression and make people want to get to know you better? The answer is simple: You have to provide value while networking.
It’s not just about making contact with someone, it’s about forging a relationship. And the most effective way to do that is to focus on generosity—to give freely of yourself without expectation of anything in return. This spirit will help inspire others to trust you, and that is the foundation for building a powerful professional relationship.
When considering how to provide value while networking, focus on the following 4 areas.
- Share Connections
One of the most impactful ways you can provide value while networking is by making mutually beneficial introductions. When people share common interests or goals, connect them with one another. When one person has a problem the other can solve, introduce them. In doing so, you position yourself as a “hub” for your network—that critical, central link that brings the disparate spokes of the wheel together.
In-person introductions are usually preferable, but even a simple email or LinkedIn message will do.
- Share Experiences
You possess a wide array of incredibly valuable knowledge and wisdom gained from your unique personal and professional history. Part of the reason we network is to tap into that intelligence—to learn from those who have experienced things we have not. Don’t keep your insights to yourself. The lessons you learned from mistakes in your past could save someone else a lot of pain. Don’t shy away from sharing these things, even if it makes you feel a little vulnerable to do so. Others will appreciate the honesty and your words may play a big role in preventing problems for them in the future.
- Share Resources
When you stumble upon a great business resource—be it an article, a conference, a new piece of software, or any other professional tool—there are probably a lot of people in your network who would also benefit from knowing about it. Challenge yourself to share these kinds of things with at least one other person. The same goes for all the little tips and tricks you accumulate on a day-to-day basis. When you find one that truly saves you time, energy or money, spread the word. Almost everyone is looking for ways to be more efficient and effective. When you regularly share useful work strategies, people will begin to see you as a helper—someone who is actively trying to improve the quality of their lives.
Also read: How to Interrupt the Endless Networking Cycle and Get Results | Networking for Success Series
- Share Opportunities
Finally, connect the people in your network with opportunities. When you’re working on a new, exciting project, consider who in your network might be a useful contributor. When you hear about a job opening in your organization, consider who might be a match.
All too often, people think selfishly about such things. They look for their own opportunities and ignore those that don’t serve their needs. But, by sharing an opportunity with someone in your network, you demonstrate true selflessness. The only thing you have to gain is a stronger relationship with the person you’re helping.
When attempting to build bonds in the business world, remember to lead with a generous heart. Give freely. Provide value while networking and, in the future, your network will provide value to you.