Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Marny Lifshen - Guest Blogger

Today's Guest Blogger is Marny Lifshen.

Are Your Networking Expectations Reasonable?

By Marny Lifshen, Author

Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women

Recently, a colleague recommended me to a prospective client, and I was very happy to be hired as a marketing consultant for their company. I immediately e-mailed the colleague that referred me to let him know the good news, and asked if I could take him to lunch as a thank-you.

During lunch, I filled him in on how things were going with the new client, and then made a point of asking him about his business, and how I might help him. I learned quite a bit about his business goals and made a few suggestions about people he should meet and organizations that might be a good fit for him.

After lunch (I of course picked-up the tab), I followed up with virtual introductions to the people I had mentioned, and the websites of the organizations I recommended.

A few weeks later, I saw him at an event. As we were chatting with some others, he told them about giving me a lead and then jokingly (sort of) said he hadn’t gotten anything back from me yet. I was rather shocked! I felt that I had helped him, and I was certainly looking for ways to give him a direct lead to business.

This led me to think about networking expectations, and how having unrealistic ones can cause you frustration, and eventually hurt your professional relationships and reputation. So, here are some suggestions for how you can keep your networking expectations in line.

1) Networking SHOULD be a two-way street. It must be a give-and-take relationship in order to be successful -- but it doesn’t always happen consecutively or immediately. It can take time to get something back from someone you helped, so be patient and don’t have that “tit for tat” mentality, or you will alienate your colleagues.

2) Networking is not always about LEADS for clients, customers or jobs. The benefits of networking are vast and varied, so don’t keep a narrow focus. Your network can help with resources, advice, access, support and opportunities that don’t necessarily relate to leads – but can be hugely helpful to your career.

3) In order to get the benefits of a powerful network, you have to ASK for what you need! Not everyone is good at proactively looking for ways to help people in their network. So if you need something and you think someone you know can help, ask them – you’ll be surprised how willing people are to help if they just know what you need. Don’t assume they know intuitively what to do.

There is no doubt that a strong network can have a huge impact on your career. If you keep your expectations realistic and reasonable, you will ultimately enjoy better results.

Have A Great Day.


David Morris said...

Nice article.

Terry said...

Excellent job reiterating networking guidelines. Depending upon their objective (new job, additional clients, partnerships to develop new products) people have different networking expectations. They need to be reminded how to network along with ways to improve their results: keep your expectations realistic and reasonable.

Along with realistic expectations, good manners and thoughtfulness are useful traits for effective networking.


James T. Parsons said...

Marny, good article!

I think that there definitely are two general camps about networking - those that are based upon developing relationships long-term, and those that see it as exchanging "leads" (ala Glengarry Glen Ross). The expectation of the former is about long-term trust and reliability, and latter focuses on immediate benefit. I have seen this trend not just in social networking and private business, but also in non-profits (how they are cultivating their donors), politics, etc.

I find it helpful always to note one's camp - I fall into the developing long-term relationships. When I haven't conveyed that, if the person thinks the contact is a "lead," they might hound that person to no end, and be upset when it leads to nothing ("immediate") and their manner prevented the cultivation benefits.

Do you see the same trend? Curious.

Marny, I will keep an eye out for other posts you make - you strike me as effective. Thanks.