True or false: Networking is a task, like building your house. Accumulate the materials, do the necessary hammering, and bingo, you’ve got your house.
“False,” say authors Bob Allard and Richard Banfield. In their book, The Care & Feeding of Your Network, the authors assert that networking greatness comes from giving, not accumulating.
The authors’ five steps to building a professional network:
1. Spark a richer conversation. Instead of “What do you do?” ask, “So, what are you working on?”
2. Think like a matchmaker. Is there a colleague, former classmate or neighbor who could help a contact find a new career or answer a vexing question?
3. Make a meaningful introduction. “This is the hard part,” say the authors, but “it will get much easier the more you do it, and it feels good.”
4. Complete the circle by following up. “Calling a friend to see if he’s heard from an introduction you’ve made is a great reason to give someone a call,” the authors write.
5. Take your turn to talk about what you’re working on. Example: “I’m interested in making a job switch” or “I’d like to find a book club for business books.”