Transform Your Networking by Giving

The spirit of giving is the secret that transforms networking from a drag into a rewarding and powerful activity. If your job hunt is sputtering out, bring it back to life with a generosity campaign. 

Benefits of Focusing on Giving

  1. Get better results. You’ll score more successes when you look for ways to assist others. Many people shrink away from any mention of unemployment, and relatively few will have leads if you ask them about immediate job openings that are appropriate for you. But doing them a favor may make them feel more comfortable and be more inclined to help you in return.
  2. Expand your prospects. Maybe you quickly exhausted the list of people you know in your field who could hire you, but you’ll never run out of people who could use your help.
  3. Increase your opportunities to practice. Every interaction trains you to become better at networking. You’ll be readier to follow up when an old coworker introduces you to a nonprofit’s vice president whom you’ve been trying to meet.
  4. Deepen your sense of validation. Being out of work can cause you to question your abilities. Every time you make a contribution, though, you reassure yourself of your value.
  5. Renew your motivation. Thinking of others encourages you to keep trying. 

Giving While Networking  

  1. Provide publicity. Everyone loves free publicity, and the Internet makes it easy. Feature other people in your blog. Retweet their articles.
  2. Attend events. Live events create a lot of pressure to make a good impression. People will appreciate your boosting their turnout numbers and participating in discussions.
  3. Volunteer your services. Be attentive to others’ needs. Offer to drive a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment. Help a friend make a poster for her missing cat.
  4. Support the same charities. In addition to helping others directly, consider the causes they support. If you both love animals, wash dogs together at the next fundraiser for your neighborhood animal shelter.
  5. Offer feedback. When someone forwards you an article, read it carefully. Send them an email with thoughtful comments and additional information. 
  6. Praise their accomplishments. Sincere praise works wonders. Congratulate an old friend on a promotion. Let a local artist know how much you love the mural you see on your way to work.
  7. Hand out presents. Depending on the relationship you’ve developed, tangible gifts may be a logical next step. Send a plant or a box of tea to a colleague you want to reconnect with.
  8. Extend an invitation. Reach out when you hear about an event that may interest someone you want to know better. Forward an announcement of an upcoming lecture or let them know you have an extra ticket.
  9. Accept favors in return. Giving and receiving go hand in hand. Be gracious when someone reciprocates so they can experience the pleasure of giving too.  

Even if you used to dread networking, you’ll look forward to it when you see how well giving works. Most jobs are filled through personal contacts, so focus your efforts where you’ll get the highest payoff.