Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Common Networking Fears: How To Give Back

You can start by asking for help yourself ...



As you can imagine, I meet a lot of people who are nervous about networking and, in particular, joining a regular membership group. They give many reasons, but there is one very common networking fear ...

There are many people with the same common networking fears as you have!

There are many people with the same common networking fears as you have!

copyright: kasto / 123rf stock photo

They tell me "I don't know what I have to give back". My response is usually, "Well done you! You've passed the first hurdle and you're a natural giver! You're interested in what you have to offer others rather than the other way around. You'll do well. All you need is to learn how"

"Networking is about developing relationships and the first thing you can give into the relationship is your time and attention!"

Start with a conversation and listen - really listen - to what they are saying and respond back depending on what they talk about. It may be that first conversation doesn't lead to anything more than finding out about each other. What you have in common is not necessarily work-related.

So I tend to flush out those who love dogs. Get two doggie people together and the anecdotes and stories can lead to sharing information on the best places to walk the dog or how to deal with fireworks. Now you're giving a bit deeper.

A lovely story by one of my clients, Barbara:

I think it shows how listening and responding to the small talk, the inconsequential throwaway remarks, can pay dividends.

She had just been introduced to a senior executive in a company she wanted to work with. The event was informal and the conversation was about the wet weather. This man remarked that as a keen cyclist, the problem was when it rained, his glasses got steamed up when he was cycling.

Later that day, she got talking to a friend, another keen cyclist who also wore glasses and she asked her how she managed. Her friend told her that you could buy demister and recommended the best brand.

So Barbara sent the executive an email giving him this information, the result was he's willing to see her again.

Some ways that turned into further giving. She shared her story with me and now I've shared it with you. I'll share it with others when I'm promoting Barbara to demonstrate what sort of person she is.

"This brings me to another way you can give before you've built your business network!"

Ask for advice and help for yourself. It may seem counterintuitive because surely that's taking, not giving? Let's be clear, I'm not suggesting that you pitch for business. But asking for help and advice is a giving activity, as it allows the other person to give.

We tend to like the people we have helped more than the people who have helped us. The psychological rationale for this is a bit tortuous so bear with me.

We like to think well of ourselves. If we help someone then that must be because we like them. After all, we trust our instincts to suss out the good people. So if I have helped you then I've invested in you and I only invest in good people ... so therefore I must like you.

I think there is also a simpler explanation: we don't like being obligated. Have you ever had a friend who will never let you pay for the coffee when you're out together? After a while it starts to feel uncomfortable, you feel in her debt and you become reluctant to go for coffee with her.

"Relationships are best when both parties reciprocate and that requires both parties to allow the other to do so!"

If you're still anxious that you don't have a business network think again. The chances are that if you're going into business you will have worked in at least one other place and had colleagues.

You will also have friends who require services or services that others in your new network might be able to supply. If you've started having conversations with your new business network friends, make sure you ask who they want to meet. You may be surprised when they describe them that some of them sound just like your best friend or next door neighbour or someone you used to work with.

Finally, I have three tips to get you started in giving to develop your business network:

  1. Give people your time and attention. Arrange to have a coffee to get to the know them.

  2. Ask for help yourself. Give them the compliment that you'd value their advice and support.

  3. Ask who they want to meet. You may get a pleasant surprise about the number of people you do know.

If you're a seasoned networker and have an impressive network then how about helping out the novices you meet by sharing this blog post with them? I'm sure they'll repay you.

"Would you like to know more?"

If you'd like to learn more about common networking fears, how to overcome them and how referral marketing really can help your business to prosper, then do call me on 07970 638857 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...


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07970 638857