The word “networking” is so overused, and people tend to define it based on their expectations. Networking is defined in the dictionary as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.” Networking in the past was about showing up at events with your business cards (and resumes) and selling yourself to others, so they either want to hire you, or do business with you. With the state of affairs and so many people looking for jobs, there truly needs to be a paradigm shift from the way we used to network, to the way we need to network now. When you go into a networking situation or event, lower your expectations. Think about what you have to offer to the people you are about to meet. What can you do to support others’ needs? There will always be someone more in need than you. I’ve always approached networking in this way (which may explain why I am popular, but not rich). Whether it is connecting with people on Linked In and offering to introduce them to others, or introducing them to others via e-mail. It took me a while to get to the point where I didn’t expect that when I needed help, those same individuals that I helped time and time again, would be there for me. When I was unemployed a few years ago and reached out to my “network”, I did not receive the responses that I expected. I was disappointed and it created tension with my relationships. When you offer to help others, you have to do it from a place of giving and not expecting anything in return; no strings attached. There are some people who always ask for help and never offer it, and there are others who just don’t enjoy helping. This is a fact, whether we want to accept it or not. Everyone is different. Remember, if someone is asking for help and you do not have the energy to get involved, simply say no. It is in your right to not want to help. If you do want to help, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
I get asked often why I offer to revise resumes and connect people when I know I am not going to get a commission from it. I truly enjoy connecting people. I like to be a conduit for future relationships. I want to see others succeed. It makes me feel good. Why wouldn’t I help someone if it is within my power to do so? Whatever connection they make with the other person, is their connection. I know the person I am and I know whatever happens in my life, I’ll be ok.