Networking. You hear it now more than ever. It’s the one of the best ways to find a job. One of the best ways to find your next client. One of the best ways to secure a referral for a home repair or a new doctor. You get the picture. What struck me several days ago is understanding the difference between an active network versus actively networking.

An active network is a one where you are making an effort to keep in touch with people for personal or professional reasons and ask how you can help them. It usually includes family, friends, colleagues, classmates, peers, co-workers, clients and neighbors, and new people that you meet through others. These are sincere relationships. You want to know how these people are doing.

Actively networking strikes me as the process of meeting as many people as possible who can connect you with someone or how you can gain something without offering something in return. Its the process of “taking” but not offering anything in return. None of us wants to be in this situation. Who wants to be known as a taker?

In a September 4 post from the Web site, The Simple Dollar, Trent does a great job in outlining how to maintain active relationships.

We all network. Below are tips I’ve learned over the years in building an maintaning relationships:

  • Be the first to ask, “How can I help you?” People are thrown off by receiving this question because most people are only focused on their own needs.
  • If you promise to follow up during the conversation, please do so. Sometimes it might not be immediate but still come through. People will remember.
  • If you plan to make an introduction, be sincere on how well you know the person you’re going to connect. There are too many people willing to offer connections but who don’t actually know the person. If I haven’t seen or spoken someone in a year, let the other person know. That way it isn’t a surprise.
  • Try to find a common thread as to why two people should meet. Don’t make it awkward. People are busy enough without having to solve a puzzle as to why they should meet one of your connections. I’ll usually write an email that explains why I feel these two people should meet.
  • Don’t expect anything. It’s the “Go-giver” principle of giving, and it will come back ten-fold. It takes more effort to offer your time but the rewards are great. (The Go-Giver is a book written by Bob Burg. It is worth your time to read.)
  • Value your time. Beware of the “takers.” You should know what your time is worth. Use empathy with people who are networking for jobs. We’ve all been there but also be aware of how your time is used with takers. You’ll know the difference immediately.

Look at networking as a part of your personality–all the diverse personality who help shape you as a person. Offer yourself to help others. In today’s environment, there are multiple ways of keeping in touch but there is only still one approach…always be sincere.

Did you like this blog? Please let me know at .