Who’s Really in Your Network?
For those of us that were around long before social networking sites were the rage, many of us actually knew people. Yes, I know the number of contacts you have may exceed 300. But how many of those people do you know? For that matter, how many of those people know you, I mean, really know you? Are you able to trust someone you don’t know? Can they trust you?
You may wonder why I bring up trust in relationship to networking, especially as it relates to the job market. It seems pretty simple: if you need a job, how can someone connect you with an opportunity if they:
1) Don’t know what your actual (not imagined)skills are
2) Don’t know what you are really qualified for (not just a “wanna be”)
3) Don’t know what else is going on that may prevent you from pursuing an opportunity they suggest
4) Aren’t sure they want to risk their reputation
And conversely, how can you trust that they:
1) Are recommending something that makes sense
2) Really know the people involved
3) Understand why/or why not a situation would be a good fit
In most cases, if you have access to contact information, then you have opportunity to get to know a person, to some degree. It’s really up to you to make an effort to get to know people, if you are interested in developing trusting relationships. It doesn’t happen overnight, and won’t happen without effort.
The real question is, when we talk about networking, how much do you show you really care about knowing other people? If people don’t seem to be hearing you, thinking of you, reaching out to you, then before you isolate, take action:
Ask questions. Stop talking, telling, arguing, complaining, and ask questions. If something sounds odd, then think of a question to pose that genuinely sounds like you are interested in understanding.
Pay attention. Listen to what is going on with others. Know or learn about the issues others are facing. Their angst, edginess, poor choice of words isn’t meant to hurt you or insult you. It just is how they may feel or what they are experiencing right now.
Reach out. Don’t just “link” to someone new. Communicate with them. Show you want to know them. Don’t expect people to come to you without an effort.
Participate. Joining ( a social website, an association, a church-whatever) doesn’t do it alone. You need to participate.
Get over yourself. It isn’t always about you. Have some empathy for where people are coming from before you interpret their actions as a snub or insult.
What can you do today to really get to know someone else, or help them to know you?