We’ve all exchanged small talk and business cards with potential clients–in person or online– and then forgotten to follow up. Why does this happen?
First, we communicated with them in our “selling” (i.e. desperation) voice. And when they heard that voice, they disconnected. Second, we simply lost interest, a natural byproduct of transactional networking. Hello, lack of follow-through.
The Netgiving Concept Methodology
So here’s a thought: What if we focused on meeting people, truly connecting, and then giving something of value? What if we expressed curiosity not just in business settings, but throughout the dozens of encounters we have with people every day? Think family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors, but also the waiter or bartender at your favorite eating establishment, the cashier at the grocery store, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn contacts.
The concept is “netgiving,” and it’ll encourage you to become more relational, more strategic, and a higher-performing professional.
Netgiving in Action
Envision this experience: You connect alumni to your college in a way that was meaningful for them while also raising money. Through LinkedIn, you met Eli Harris, founder and CEO of Give Back (packing), an organization that helped recent college graduates transition to a career through summer volunteer travel programs across four locations: New York, San Francisco, St. Johns, and D.C. You asked a contact, a successful finance guy, to host a roundtable on leadership with his executive team. It was a great experience for him and the students. And that connection led him to join the Alumni Board of the college. This is a perfect example of netgiving. Let us break it down for you.
- What are you already curious about? Recycling, yoga, Russian novels, clean eating?
When you met Eli on LinkedIn, you were truly interested in helping him expand his Give Back (packing) program. It was a natural fit for you because you worked for a college in a networking role. You helped make some connections and were invited to go to St. Johns and teach a GiveBack (packing) session while volunteering alongside the students. You had an amazing experience and an unexpected benefit was that your contact (the finance guy) made his first of many donations to the college!
The Lesson: Use your natural fit.
- Where can you expand your sphere of influence? Strike up a conversation just beyond your usual comfort zone.
Every person, both in-person and online, you interact with daily matters. When you strike up a conversation with someone while walking your dog or like someone’s post on social media, you’re probably not intending to meet your future business partner, but you might. That’s how you met Eli. Did you know that these “weak ties,” meaning someone you know as an acquaintance or perhaps someone you know from your past, are often better at helping you in your job search than a close friend? It’s true. Marc Miller of Forbes explains why in “To Get A Job, Use Your Weak Ties”.
The Lesson: Meaningful connections can come from unexpected places.
- Have you done your homework? After all, everything you need is already at your fingertips!
This is not rocket science. Search LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, websites, articles–well, you get the idea–for people you’d like to connect to. Because you met Eli online, you had immediate access to his education and work history, charities he was passionate about, and mutual connections. Before you go on a sales call, to a job interview, even to a parent-teacher conference, wouldn’t it be helpful to visit each person’s LinkedIn profile, and find commonalities? LinkedIn sends alerts to people when they have new visits to their profile. This demonstrates care and curiosity. Read that last part again. You are interested in them. Netgiving focuses on the other person. Networking focuses on me. See the difference?
The Lesson: A little research goes a long way.
Throw out the old model of transactional networking and replace it with relational netgiving. When you focus on how you can help others instead of how every interaction benefits you, your relationship will improve. And given a little time, you’ll see how generosity leads ultimately to better business.