Last week, I opened my tea bag and read the inspirational quote attached to it as I always do—only this time instead of feeling inspired, I felt aggravated. The quote read, “Don’t ask and everything will come.”
I felt, and still feel, this is lousy advice and cringe at the idea of people believing it. If you want to succeed, especially in the workplace, you have to advocate for yourself, get support from others and ask for help.
Rather than sitting around and waiting for things to happen (as my tea bag brilliantly suggests), these networking tips will actually help you make things happen.
Grow your network
People can’t help you if they don’t know you. Attend industry events, network online and ask for introductions any chance you get. Entrepreneur says, “The best way to succeed at networking is to make a plan, commit to it, learn networking skills and execute your plan.” Some of their tips include:
- Set a goal for what you expect from each meeting (i.e. learning from the speaker’s topic, discovering industry trends, looking for new prospects or connecting with peers).
- Carry your business cards with you everywhere you go.
- Don’t sit by people you know.
- Set a goal to meet a certain number of people at each event you attend.
Stay engaged with your current network
Your network will be much more willing to help if you have regularly kept in touch with them. At least a few times a year, reconnect with your network via social media, a phone call, an email or a face-to-face invite to a social or professional event.
Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone” (my favorite relationship-building book) has tons of great ideas and resources to help you, like his relationship action plan guide and template.
Before you read the book, you can set up a similar system (without all the bells and whistles) by regularly adding your contact’s details and your notes (such as date contacted and conversation highlights) to a spreadsheet. Keep track of every time you connect with someone and then start building upon the spreadsheet by adding goals and contact priorities. This template will keep you organized and committed to your network while helping you track your efforts and results.
Ferrazzi also suggests creating a personal advisory board by getting “other people invested in your success by calling upon them as trusted advisors.” He adds, “It’s not just a way to get good advice, it’s a way to deepen bonds with people who may be extremely important to your goals.”
Don’t be shy about asking your connections for help. Speak up and let people know what you need. Most people are glad to help and will want to see you succeed.
When reaching out to your network:
- Be direct and specific with your needs.
- Show appreciation.
- Try to create win-wins whenever possible.
Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.