I recently finished reading a great book on networking called The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies, written by Ivan R. Misner, PhD and Michelle R. Donovan. Although the book is primarily geared for business people, there are still some great concepts and strategies that all of us can use in connecting with people.
One of the key principles that master networkers practice is the principle "givers gain." In The 29% Solution we read:
When you help someone meet a goal, you instantly become a "value-added" friend - an asset to this individual's life and business. You've demonstrated that you're in the relationship not just what you can get out of it, but also for what you can invest on behalf of your friend. You've demonstrated reciprocity and caring. You've nourished the relationship's roots so they can become strong, deep, and broad (p. 96).
Start by giving. Let your mantra be not "What's in it for me? but "What can I do for you?" This is perhaps the most powerful technique for deepening and widening your networks, as well as for adding value. When building a deep network, do everything you can to bring business and contacts to your networking partners. Share information with them, and invite them to business meetings that will position them favorably with people they need to know. Get to the point where your networking partners know you always have something to give them. In short, do what it takes to earn the help you may need to ask for down the road. It's no wonder that the most effective and powerful networking entrepreneurs live by the philosophy "Givers Gain": when you help others achieve their goals, they will help you achieve your goals. Do not underestimate the power of helping other people - it is the cornerstone upon which relationships are built (p. 98).As believers in Jesus Christ, it would seem that we should live with this same philosophy of giving of ourselves to others, and not just for business reasons. When we give of ourselves to our fellow believers in Christ, to our friends, to complete strangers, we are imitating our Lord.
For God so loved, that He gave... (John 3:16).
My challenge for you today is to be available to help those around you. Make personal connections with people and help build relationships between friends in your own network. Gain through giving.