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. Relatively few people will have leads if you ask them about immediate job openings that are appropriate for you. However, we can all help each other out in some way.
2. Feel more comfortable. Many people shrink away from any mention of unemployment because it’s a troubling issue. You’ll get a warmer reception if you start out by doing them a favor by making everyone feel comfortable with the topic.
3. Expand your prospects. Maybe you quickly exhausted the list of people you know in your field who could hire you. However, you’ll never run out of people who could use your helping hand.
4. Increase your opportunities to practice. Every interaction trains you to become better at networking. You’ll be ready to follow up when an old coworker introduces you to a company vice president you’ve been trying to meet.
5. Deepen your sense of validation. Being out of work can cause you to question your abilities. Every time you make a contribution, you reassure yourself of your value.
How to Use Giving When You’re Networking Your Way to Your Next Job
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 creative. Offer to drive a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment. Hand out flyers for a local school board candidate.
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. Give away a free sample. If you have a product to promote, let people sample it first. Use your website or rent a booth at a community fair to reach potential customers.
8. 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.
9. Extend an invitation. Reach out when you hear about an event that may interest someone you want to get to know better. Forward an announcement of an upcoming lecture or let them know you have an extra ticket.
10. 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.