No matter who you are or what part of the world you live in, Givers Gain is the No. 1 rule to remember when networking. You should always be thinking, “How can I help this person?” After all, networking is about building relationships; and helping others is the absolute best way to begin the relationship-building process. Put simply, helping equals opportunity.
At a social event, you usually ask somebody, “How’s it going?” What’s the typical reply? Probably something like, “Great; things couldn’t be better.” That’s a canned response that people give because they want to be polite and because they know nobody really wants to hear their troubles. But it’s not usually the whole truth.
Things can always be better–that is, there are surely ways you can help–but most people aren’t inclined to go into detail or let others know what’s going on, especially at social events. The best way to find out is to avoid generalities like, “How are things?” Ask more specific questions.
For example, if somebody tells you that things are going great, their company is expanding, and business is better than they expected, ask a specific question like, “Are you hitting all of your goals?” Even if they say yes, this is still a big opportunity to help. Think about it: A company that is expanding faster than the owner had projected. What kind of help might it need? You may be able to make some introductions that this individual would be very grateful for, but you can only figure out what introductions to make after getting past the generalities and finding out a person’s specific needs.
Many consider networking just another way to get clients, but when you think in terms of building relationships, a chance to help is a big opportunity. That help can be provided in many forms, each as valuable as the next.