By now you know that networking gives you access to the best opportunities life has to offer. This is especially true when it comes to job searching and business building. From 2008 to 2012, over 40% of job seekers landed a job through networking, while fewer than 15% landed a job through a recruiter, reports Right Management. If you don’t already know someone who works at a company in today’s marketplace, it’s extremely hard to break through.
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Over the past years, networking has gotten a bad rap because it’s viewed as transactional. When I was in college, I was afraid of networking because I felt desperate and I didn’t want to be seen as someone who was just asking for jobs and internships. My mom always told me to stay away from “users”, or those who wanted something from me without wanting to return the favor. She viewed users as those who would pretend to be my friend but would have ulterior “selfish” motives. I was always seen as a giver in high school and college, which meant that I was a prime target for users.
Throughout the years, I become an expert at networking because I realized that givers are the ones that actually succeed in business. The one mistake almost everyone makes is that they are always asking themselves “what’s in it for me?” instead of “how can I serve others?” The mentality that comes with this shift in mindset will attract the right people into your life and make others want to help you. Of course, you will still get users but you can increase the percentage of people who will want to genuinely help you out and appreciate what you’ve done if you give to more people. This is why blogging and social networking can work if you are coming up with content that is useful, informative and solves people’s problems. They will naturally want to hire you, partner with you or buy your products because you’ve already helped them first.
When you shift your approach to networking, you will start to notice how generous others will be. In fact, I believe about 30 to 40% of the people that you help will return the favor. This might not seem like a lot but if you’re dealing with high profile individuals like I do, it’s substantial and justifies your time. On the other hand, if you continue being someone who is constantly asking for favors, people will stop bothering with you, unfollow you, disconnect from you, unfriend you or simply ignore you. You can’t afford to be that type of person because without relationships, you will never reach your full potential and you will stay unemployed longer. Be someone who is constantly helping others and they will help you reach your goals.
Dan Schawbel is a workplace speaker and the New York Times best-selling author of Promote Yourself. Subscribe to his free monthly newsletter for more career tips.
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