Why do some people seem to gain so many opportunities from networking, while some dismiss it as a sheer waste of time?
I think it has to do with the attitude and mindset we have when we do our networking. These are some of the most effective networking mindsets I have come across. I call them the WIG mindsets.
Win-win: When working together, everyone involved must have something to gain. However the benefits might be very different for each person. For example, I teach secondary level maths, and you teach primary level maths. I can do free workshops for your students on how to transit to Sec 1 better. I get branding opportunities for your graduating students, while you deliver value to your clients without paying a cent.
Intensely interested in other people: If you are not interested in other people’s lives, stories, aspirations and dreams, you will struggle in networking. Because you will always be talking about yourself, your dreams, your problems, your everything. Even if you are the most charismatic person around, people have only that much appetite for your stories. Soon people around you will realise that they are not going to gain much from associating with you. Also, you’ll struggle because you don’t have the needs of your network in your heart. If you don’t take their needs to heart, how do you link them up with potential opportunities?
Give first: Don’t be calculative. Don’t be transactional. Don’t wait for someone to give you something first. Give first. It will change your whole game of networking. But what can you give, especially when you’re networking with someone who is more successful, more experienced, or more connected than you? You give your undivided attention. You give heartfelt compliments. And more often than not, when you truly listen, you might uncover something that you might be able to help with.