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By Michelle Wanjiku
When it comes to networking, knowing what you are doing will greatly improve your chances of getting contacts that will be beneficial to you. Sadly, very few people know how to network properly which is why they never benefit from the contacts they have.
In this article, see some of the rules you need to abide by when it comes to networking in order for it to be beneficial to your career.
1. Thou shall drop the “what is in it for me?” attitude
A very common mistake people make when it comes to networking is thinking about you. Granted you are networking to gain something, the whole idea of having a network is so that you can both help each other out.
This means that if you want to reap the benefits of networking, then you need to stop focusing on what you will gain and start thinking about what you bring to the table as well. People will be more willing to help you if you are also willing to help others.
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2. Thou shall build a relationship
No matter how many networking groups you join or how many people you meet, if you don’t form a relationship with any of them then they will not be able or willing to help you.
It’s important to remember that not every network you meet will be able to help; this is why you need to choose your networks carefully. After knowing who is capable of helping you and who you can help in return, then you need to start building a sort of relationship with them.
People will only offer you referrals if they know you and feel comfortable with you. No one wants to refer someone they don’t know because it could end up spoiling their reputation.
3. Thou shall give the first referral
Networking is about give and take. Don’t be the person who is always complaining about not getting any referrals. What you need to ask yourself is, what have you done for the people in your networks?
If you can help someone in your contacts then go ahead and do it because it will eventually lead to you getting a referral from someone else or the same person.
4. Thou shall be specific of the type of referral
In order to get help from someone they need to know what you are looking for and what you require. You need to figure out what you want and what you are looking for, what jobs would you like and things like that.
This will make it easier for your networks to know which positions will suit you and what they should refer you for.
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5. Thou shall reciprocate when appropriate
Another key rule to abide by when it comes to networking is to ensure that you always reciprocate any help you get. Don’t be the kind of person that just takes from others but never gives anything in return.
That means that when someone helps you get a position or gives you a heads up on a certain job, then you should also do the same for them. Just ensure that you don’t just help those who help you.
6. Thou shall thank the person who gave a referral
It might seem like a normal thing to do but you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t even bother to say thank you.  It doesn’t matter whether you got the job or not, if someone took the time to recommend you for a position then you should certainly thank them for it.
Most people assume that because they weren’t able to get the position then they have nothing to be thankful for. Remember this person didn’t have to help you out, they chose to.
7. Thou shall follow up on the referral within 24 hours
Another thing to remember is whenever you get a referral it is only good manners to actually follow it up and fast.
Don’t wait until two weeks have gone by before following up because this will show you are not interested and the person who referred you will not be willing to do so again.
In Conclusion,
Networking is not easy but if you follow the rules you will benefit immensely. All you need to ensure is that you have the right contacts and are using them to grow your career. Most people get jobs through referrals and it is therefore important that you build solid networks who can help you as well.
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