In order to build a strong, strategic network, you need to nurture your connections. You need to show them some love. The best way to do that is to regularly offer value to your network.
Instead of going in with the attitude of "How can you help me?" you need to approach networking with the mindset of "How can we help each other?" You need to constantly think about how you can support your contacts.
But, how can you do that? How are you going to prove that you're an awesome addition to their network?
While it's tempting to fall back on the old line, "Let me know how I can help you," it's not always an effective way to offer your support to someone. Why? Because if someone doesn't know how you can help them, they're not going to ask. Or, they're going to ask you for something you might not be able to offer. Instead, give them something to work with by being specific about what you can realistically offer them. Understand what they need in order to achieve their goals and then ask yourself, "How can I help this person reach his or her goals? What support, resources, or opportunities can I offer them?"
Don't worry—nurturing your network doesn't have to be a huge hassle on your end. Here are some easy ways you can offer value to your connections:
1. Job It Forward
As you're job searching, chances are you'll see a lot of great jobs out there that simply aren't a good fit for you. However, they could be perfect for someone else in your network.
If you see a job opening, share it with someone in your network you think might be a good fit. You can send a private message with a link to the opening, or you can just post the opening in your LinkedIn feed for people to see.
Not actively looking for a job? You can still share job openings or cool companies you see with your network. So, be on the lookout!
2. Share An Article
Sharing an article or video is a great way to start a conversation and/or keep in touch with a contact. Consider this person's industry, interests, and special projects, then share something that's relevant to them. What can you find on their LinkedIn profile? What have you learned about them in your conversations?
Send your contact a message with the link to the resource and a little bit of context. You could say something like, "I saw this article and thought you might find it interesting, particularly the part about ____ because you're involved in ____. Enjoy!"
3. Share THEIR Content With YOUR Network
Another easy way to offer value to your connections is to share their content with your network. If you found a blog post from one of your connections interesting, share it with your network by posting it to your LinkedIn or Twitter feed with a brief blurb.
Don't forget to tag the author with the @ feature so they know you're sharing it!
4. Make An Introduction
Be a super connector! Look at your network and see which connections could benefit from knowing each other. Then, make an introduction. Make sure you give a little background on each person and briefly explain how they can benefit from knowing each other. Here's an example:
"I noticed you're looking to break into the entertainment industry. I'd love to introduce you to Jody Smith. She works as a talent agent out in L.A. and I'm sure she'd be a valuable addition to your network. Would you be interested in getting an introduction?"
5. Endorse Their Skills
If you know someone in your network is an exceptional digital marketer, endorse him or her for that skill on LinkedIn!
Your endorsement will reinforce the skills listed on his or her profile, which is a huge value-add to him or her. It gives that third-party credibility factor that employers and recruiters are looking for on LinkedIn profiles. Best part? It takes two seconds!
6. Write Them Recommendations
Recommendations are like testimonials on your LinkedIn profile. A good one is worth its weight in gold.
If you've worked with a contact in the past and/or know they have certain skill sets or character traits, write him or her a recommendation. Your connections will appreciate this gesture greatly, and may even write you one in return! This takes a little more time and thought, but it's worth much more to connections than endorsements.
So there you have it. Effective networking doesn't have to be a hassle! Spend a little time each day nurturing your network. If you make this a habit, you'll find yourself with a strong network in no time!
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.