After my last post titled “How to Network for a Job: Give Before You Get“, I had a great email from someone asking for additional networking tips…
“How do I make sure I am not the slimy guy who’s just helping people to get favours? How do I make sure that I stay genuine?”
I appreciated the note, and it’s a great question!
I think each person has to ask this of themselves each day.
Zig Ziglar, an exceptional motivational speaker, often used to say:
“You can get everything out of life that you want! …if you help enough other people get what they want.”
I believe that’s true. However, I also believe that motives and the heart with which you do those things matters greatly as well. If it’s clear that you are “the slimy guy who’s just helping people to get favours”, it’s unlikely that most of those favours will ever materialize… AND you’ll have a reputation as a “slimy guy”! Don’t be that guy!
The answer is… Sincerity.
If you sincerely want to build relationships, and be a blessing, a pleasant surprise, a welcome connection, a valued resource and a friend to those you meet, it will become evident. It will be evident in your words, in your body language, in your face, and in your generosity.
In the 1970’s TV show M*A*S*H, Hawkeye, in one episode was trying to get a date with a particular nurse, and was having no luck at all in charming her. BJ, his best friend and tent-mate suggested that instead of trying to find a way to play her… he try sincerity. Hawkeye’s response was… “Oh, sincerity, I can fake that!”
It was a funny line, but everyone understood that it was a bad idea. Real sincerity can’t be faked. Faked “sincerity” becomes evident quickly, and the “slimy guy” reputation is born.
Checking your motives and determining you want to be of value to others will make the difference in all of your phone calls, meetings, casual conversations, and interviews as well. Before every contact, remind yourself that you truly want to be of help to the person you’re about to engage. It’s an opportunity for a new professional relationship, or perhaps even a friendship. Take the time in advance and during the conversation to think about who you know, what you know, or what you could offer that would be of help or of value in some way. Not just a token contact name or uninformed piece of advice that you throw out to them, but something that truly hits the mark.
It’s possible, and highly likely many times that you can’t come up with anything… and that’s OK.
However, SINCERELY expressing your desire to be of help somehow goes a long way toward planting a seed for future further contacts.
Don’t fake it, and don’t be the “slimy guy”.
True sincerity will quickly erase whatever skepticism your contact may have… and then they will be much more interested in helping you as well!