From the moment you’re plunged into the working world, the importance of networking is pounded into your head. Everyone has heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and while you can’t be completely devoid of skill, having valuable connections can certainly make a difference in your career.
Networking, of course, is a leading way to make those important professional connections that can influence your career trajectory. In fact, a 2016 LinkedIn survey found that up to 85 percent of jobs are found by networking. Clearly it’s an important tool, but could we be doing it better?
I say it’s time we turn the traditional concept of networking on its head.
The heart of networking is really quite selfish. You’re connecting with others in hopes that it provides you personal gains in some way. It could be so you can get the inside scoop on job openings. It may be for a good reference. It might open speaking engagement opportunities or invitations to industry events.
Bottom line: It’s all about you.
Networking should be more than that. Sure there are benefits for you, but what about the other person? Sometimes the most satisfying and rewarding networking conversations are when you forgo your aspirations and goals to help someone else.
This is why reverse networking makes so much sense. Reverse networking is where you create networks where other people benefit from you. That’s right! You’re helping them out by being a sponsor, mentor or career confidant.
Beside the warm fuzzies that come from helping others, why would you take the time out of your busy schedule to do this? There are many reasons that make reverse networking a valuable tool in your career-building arsenal:
Boosts reputation: Want to be known as the smart, insightful, helpful professional who is the go-to in your respective field? Reverse networking can do wonders for your personal brand. It helps demonstrate you’re the whole package, with a generous heart to boot.
Proves leadership ability: Stepping in to help a colleague conveys leadership aptitude. What’s more, you show you can be trusted to assist when it’s needed most. Those are the characteristics that make a great boss and an effective company executive.
Word of mouth: Reverse networking is guerrilla marketing on a personal level. When you assist others, people may spread the good news. This positive word-of-mouth gets around, and all of a sudden your name is elevated in social and professional circles.
What goes around comes around: Reverse networking should never be done with any expectation of receiving something in return; however, when you scratch someone’s back, don’t be surprised when they willingly scratch yours. Karma is a good thing.
Lasting relationships: Being a trusted contact builds incredibly strong relationships. These aren’t the one-off meetings where you chat and part ways. You’ll enjoy deep, meaningful connections with people who will positively impact your professional life for decades.
See the value? Today I challenge you to try reverse networking. Seek out a new relationship or start a conversation with the primary goal being to help someone else. Take a chance on them. When you stop focusing on yourself and start focusing more on others, I think you’ll find the rewards you get from the experience to be outstanding.