Networking: What’s in Your Useful Box?
When my children were little, I enjoyed watching ABC’s Play School with them, although sometimes I’d catch myself singing and doing the actions to “I’m a Little Teapot” or “Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and realise I was the only one left in the room. The kids had gone to play with their toys elsewhere.
One of the features on the TV show that I loved was the useful box. In it were bits of fabric, wool, cardboard, pipe cleaners, buttons, bottle tops and more. It was a never-ending box of goodies that enabled the hosts to create craft masterpieces.
When it comes to your career, you should have a useful box too. Not a literal one that sits in the corner of the room but one that sits in a folder on your computer, or perhaps a purely figurative one that sits in a corner of your mind.
I have spoken for years about how important networking is to our careers and how we should always be adding values to our relationships. A useful box is a wonderful tool to help with this. When you speak with people, whether they are new or have been within your circle for many years, listen carefully to what excites them. See what you can pull out of your useful box to tell them about or send to them.
“What should be in my useful box?” I hear you ask.
In reality, anything useful. Here are four examples:
- People – who in your network would be a great connection for this person? Who can you introduce them to that can help them solve their problem or achieve whatever goals they are pursuing? Are there authors, bloggers, thought leaders or commentators you could suggest they check out?
- Reading material – what books, blogs, articles, newsletters or research reports have you found of interest that you believe your connection will too?
- Resources – which podcasts, videos, TED talks, industry associations or networking events have inspired you? Send them a link, details of an upcoming event, or an invitation to join you at a future function.
- Recommendations – what amazing restaurants, wine bars or coffee shops do you spend time at that they may enjoy? What quirky bookshops, museums or galleries should they check out? This is especially useful if your connection is heading away on business or a holiday and you are familiar with their destination.
Be a collector of useful things and store them in your useful box. Be ready to pull out various bits and pieces and put them together for your networking masterpiece.
Your useful box will help you nurture your relationships. Your connections will be grateful and you will be remembered. After all, when it comes to networking – it’s not what you know, it’s not even who you know. It is who knows you!
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For more ideas about networking, check out Networking: It Takes Work