Instead of Networking, Try Building Relationships

Nobody likes to be treated like a tool, so instead of networking, just work on building relationships with people in your field.

Networking has gotten a bad rap because of how it makes personal relationships subservient to expedient business transactions. Nobody likes to be treated like a tool, so instead of networking, just work on building relationships with people in your field. Chances are, they're looking for someone like you (so why not make it you?). Some tips for building relationships from the Harvard Business Review:


Be honest about your desires: If you have a plan or product ready to go, it’s OK to be up-front about it. “I’ve got an idea for a new product and I think you’d be a great partner.” That’s a simple and effective message that potential investors will appreciate and find refreshing. 

Find commonalities: Conversation is often a vehicle for establishing personal rapport even though the literal dialogue pertains to a business idea or current event in the industry. That means finding something you have in common with the person you’re speaking to is a good way of building you’re relationship with him or her. 

And by using social media, you can get ahead of the conversation. It’s standard practices for companies to look at prospective employees’ social profiles to learn more about them, so using the same tools can help you find a shared professional interest, hobby, or alma mater. Once you establish some shared ground, proceed with your prepared questions about their business.

Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at Wharton and a leading expert on success, explains how he connects with professionals in his field and uses his time with them wisely:

"When I think about a giver, I think about somebody who actually enjoys helping others and often prefers to be on the contributing side of a relationship as opposed to the receiving side and will typically, you know, make introductions, share knowledge, perhaps provide mentoring with no strings attached."


The more personal, the better: Geography allows individuals with mutual interests and talents to cooperate from opposite ends of the globe, but if at all possible, it’s best to meet in person. Proximity creates familiarity and non-verbal communication counts for a lot of how we receive someone. If a personal meeting is impossible, Skype or other video-conferencing tools should be your next choice. Lastly, the telephone.

Arrive with ways to help: If you can offer someone a specific idea of how you can help them achieve their goals, they are much more likely to see you as an asset. It may seem polite and deferential to continually ask, “How can I be of help to you?” but it actually puts additional pressure on the person with whom you’re trying to build a relationship. And it can also give the impression you’re working to establish a quid pro quo, as if you already have a mental list of the ways you’ll ask the other person to help you.

Read more at the Harvard Business Review.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

If you want to spot a narcissist, look at the eyebrows

Bushier eyebrows are associated with higher levels of narcissism, according to new research.

Big Think illustration / Actor Peter Gallagher attends the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
popular
  • Science has provided an excellent clue for identifying the narcissists among us.
  • Eyebrows are crucial to recognizing identities.
  • The study provides insight into how we process faces and our latent ability to detect toxic people.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less