Networking may seem like a mysterious skill that’s beyond your grasp, but actually, it’s as simple as this Golden Rule: Always offer to help, and never expect anything in return.
Three ways the rule works:
1. It provides an instant connection. One challenge of networking, which really just means “cultivating relationships,” is that it can be tough to stand out from the crowd.
Offering your help gives you the chance to make an instant impression. As soon as you say, “Oh, I can introduce you to Mr. Big” or “I can help you out with that,” you’ve put a polish on a relationship.
2. You’ll become more giving. By not expecting a quid pro quo relationship, you’ll likely feel freer about helping others. A person who feels that others owe him something can begin to feel bitter. But if you don’t expect anything in return, you can release any negative attitudes.
3. Over time, people will do remarkable things for you because you’ll have built a strong human network of support.
Cultivate a network using the Golden Rule by always asking this question, after every phone call or face-to-face meeting: “What can I do to be helpful to you?”
Most of the time, people will say there’s nothing they need. But on the rare occasion when they say they could use a favor, you should stand ready to help.
Tip: Remember, it’s best to start with small talk. “Once you find the guy who wears Jerry Garcia ties, the deep-dish pizza aficionado or a person who also has teenagers, conversation flows," says author and social media expert Guy Kawasaki.
— Adapted from “The Golden Rule of Networking: Don’t Keep Score,” Harvey Mackay, Inc.