Give-to-get networking is all about sharing resources and information with your connections. But how do you do so?
Start by analyzing what you know about your key influencers:
- What are the greatest problems and challenges that they are currently facing in their personal or professional lives?
- What do they need to know more about to be more effective at what they do?
- Who are they already connected with personally and professionally?
- Which other connections might prove helpful to them?
- What does their LinkedIn profile teach you about them:
- Who are they connected to now on LinkedIn?
- Who might they need to connect with on LinkedIn?
- What kinds of LinkedIn Groups have they joined and what does this suggest about their networking interests?
- What professional organizations are they a part of?
- What alumni groups are they a member of?
- What kinds of LinkedIn posts and status updates are they communicating?
- What is their career pedigree?
- What is their career brand?
- What other social media sites, if any, are they active in?
- What kinds of information, resources, and people do you share in common?
To build a relationship with a key influencer or propel a key influencer relationship to the next level you can:
- Start discussions on topics they care about. Figure out what personal, career, professional, business, or job-related subjects most concern them. Set up one or more Google alerts on those subjects and collect possible articles and news items to share with them. Each time a good one surfaces, share it along with a question, comment, or insight of your own. Refine your Google alerts periodically by altering key words or adding new ones so you have a constant source of potential resources flowing into your inbox without your having to conduct searches for these resources on your own time.
- Give them information they want or need. What challenges or problems are they facing in their personal or professional lives? Track down one or more solutions, resources, articles, or references that could prove helpful to them. The same Google alerts referenced above can again be helpful here in giving you an information resource to share with your connection. While this process of finding resources may sound time-consuming, a simple tool such as Google Alerts or more complex software such as the more than 50 options listed here can greatly streamline this content curation process for you.
- Refer them to people they will benefit from knowing. Networking is ultimately all about relationships, and your networking connections will benefit as much from expanding their networks as you will benefit from expanding yours. Who do you know who can be of service to them? Do you know any key influencers that they may not already know? Do you know of any job seekers you can suggest they speak with? Do you know any vendors they may find helpful? Stop by this contact’s LinkedIn profile and click on the number of connections they have in the lower right corner of their profile header. You can double-check whether someone you wish to refer to this person is or is not already connected to them by sorting through their LinkedIn connections; you can also search their connections list for a particular person.
Note that this is a process. Start with your most critical networking connections and work your way down your Top 10 key influencer list. My guess is that by the time you do so you will already start to see growth in your networking and the emergence of new connections and career possibilities.