Career Networking: Are You a Giver?

May 2, 2015

One of the things that always strikes me when I look for good advice on career networking is that a lot of the suggestions people make revolve around the idea that you need to be a giver first. This was also a theme I saw when helping put together a video about career networking using advice from attendees to the recent FinCon Expo in New Orleans.

This got me thinking about the way I network for my career, and wondering whether or not I’m a giver.

Why You Should Be a Giver First

It’s tempting to go into a networking situation with the idea that you will look for people and ideas that you can use, rather than worry too much about what you’re offering others. However, no matter how desperate you are to get something out of a networking experience, you can actually come out ahead when you start from the position that you will see what you have to offer others. Here are some of the reasons that being a giver first can benefit you in the long run:

  • Develop real relationships: If you want to develop a real relationship that goes beyond quid pro quo, it makes sense to be a giver. When you open yourself a little bit, and offer to help someone out, you open the door for a more meaningful relationship. In the long run, this could lead to a good relationship that has more benefits (not all of them directly related to a bottom line) than you originally thought.
  • Establish a good reputation: When people see that you are willing to give, they have a more favorable impression of you, and you can establish a good reputation. Do what you can to be helpful to others, and it will come back around as others enjoy working with you, and say good things about you.
  • You understand what others need more: One of the best ways to succeed in business and in your career is to understand what others need, and be able to provide it to them. This works in networking as well. If you make it a point to give your attention to others, and find out what problems they need help with, you can better show how your strengths can help out.

By giving first, and worrying about taking later, you can set up your networking experiences to provide you with lasting, long-term benefits.

How to Be a Giver in Career Networking Situations

When you attend your next career networking experience, make sure that you understand what you need to do in order to be a giver. One of the best things you can do as a giver is to ask questions about the other person. Find out what makes him or her tick, and ask questions about what they need.

You can also offer your help and experience. This can be difficult, since you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of offering too much time and energy and “freebies” to the point that you can’t work on your own goals. However, giving a little time and attention to answer questions and offer your insights can be one way to be a giver. Let someone “pick your brain” for 10 minutes or so.

Don’t forget to look for deeper connections that can turn into partnerships later. When you give of yourself a little bit, and open yourself up to be a little bit vulnerable and establish good friendships beyond just career networking, you have the potential to reap great rewards down the road, through business partnerships, as well as through worthwhile personal relationships.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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