Empty Networking

Authentic relationships take time to build

There are 756 million active users on LinkedIn, and half of them want to meet for a virtual coffee! I regularly get requests, and in the past, I would have thought this strange because I don’t know the majority of these people. It’s like bumping into a stranger on the street and asking, “Hey, how about a quick coffee?”

You don’t want to be rude, but no, I’m not interested in meeting for the sake of meeting. I’m sure you’re a terrific person, but I just don’t have the time. And neither do you!

But then I remind myself, that a stranger is just a friend I’ve not yet met!

And unless we’re prepared to push ourselves outside our comfort zones, we limit growing both in knowledge and experience through the connection with others. This is something I’ve recently learnt and embraced through the course – Unlocking The Power of Digital Networking.

You do still need to be aware of carrying out “empty networking” (ie: connecting with anyone and everyone), which might feel beneficial the moment you hit send but will ultimately leave you right where you started — no closer to making a relevant connection or reaching your goals.

Get Strategic and Tactical

Anyone doing important work does not have time for endless connecting. That’s because it rarely adds value. It is more about trying to find something to do than knowing what exactly you should be doing. (This is where I’d recommend you ‘Get Strategic and Tactical in Networking’)

Don’t get me wrong, there is immense value in building a network of contacts, and who knows whom they know? There can be unforeseen opportunities waiting through their LinkedIn connections. But when I am grappling with a particular issue, I rarely find the solution with an individual who is more or less a stranger. In reality, I go to my established network of trusted contacts and advisors! And if I need specific expert advice that no one I know has, I look to those same trusted individuals to recommend people in their network to me, and ask for an introduction.

Building a meaningful network is not about attending unstructured networking events or clocking up the most LinkedIn connections. It requires relationships — and those take hard work, dedication, and time to build and nuture.

These types of relationships are typically developed with people that have proven to be dependable. And it often takes years to forge those lasting bonds and fortify mutual trust. However, if you’re prepared to put in the groundwork and effort to go deep – you will find valuable people you already know who are only too happy to help when you ask.

5 Tips to Avoid Empty Networking:

1. Be Purposeful
When you need to ask for help, put considered thought behind your ask. requests should be clear, meaningful, and directed at the right person with whom you know or a trusted contact knows. Sending a random request to a random person will likely get you ignored, marked as spam or worse, labelled a ‘taker’ not a ‘giver’!

2. Abandon your ego
You may think you need to elaborate on achievements or act differently to build your network. How is that helping anyone? At The Networking Hub, one of our fundamental values is open and honest communication. We develop meaningful relationships as a result. Take this approach, and you will naturally develop close connections.

3. Invest in your network
Too often, we look outside our network of trusted connections for growth, when our greatest assets are the people we liaise with on a regular basis. Nurture those relationships. Prove to them that you are a valued and trustworthy contact. Over time, you will develop lasting relationships. So when you do need a favour someday, it will be an easy ASK.

4. Act quickly
If you reach out to someone for help and they respond, get back to them right away. Do not schedule a lunch or coffee later – that only delays deepening the relationship. Or, if you are on the receiving end of a request that you cannot help with, quickly let the asker know so they can go elsewhere. Either way, they will appreciate your responsiveness and think of you in the future.

5. Reciprocate
Look for valuable ways to help your connections or those who have helped you in the past. Could they benefit from an introduction or some constructive feedback? Maybe there is an opportunity you can share? Remember that building a strong network goes both ways – you have to invest to get back.

I am sure I would enjoy meeting with you if we’ve not met already. You probably have a lot to bring to this conversation and I look forward to hearing your comments.

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