How have you been?
Can you help me with XYZ?
That is how so many business conversations start with most people.
I’m talking about people I know and those I don’t.
It never fails.
They assume that I’ve just been sitting around doing nothing, waiting for them to give me the BIG ASK.
Sometimes I get some small talk like, “How are the kids?”
It’s like the teenager who is obviously buttering you up before asking for money.
They think they are brilliant and easily getting away with duping mom and dad who must be so stupid they can barely contain themselves.
Like with the teenager, I usually play along and answer the usual questions.
Then I just wait for the ASK.
It always comes.
Once in a long while, someone will surprise me and ask what they can do for me.
It’s great, because I usually ask that of my contacts.
Not only is this a great relationship builder, it also gives me a chance to get to know them better.
Sometimes a business relationship doesn’t yield you an instant lead.
However, that person who wasn’t your lead needed something that you were able to supply, like a referral to a good lawyer or a scoop on getting a better deal somewhere.
You are probably forgettable to that person when you ask them to do something for you.
When you ask to do something for them, you instantly become, dare I say, sexy to them.
When you follow that up with an actual give, you are now mentally moved out of the mass contacts Rolodex and placed into the short list of people who are actually useful.
At some point, that useful list is where the inner circle and close colleagues and friends list gets pooled from.
Think of it as the minors team that the majors pull players from.
Sorry, I am a baseball mom and a fan. Baseball analogies are a way of life for me.
Now that you understand how someone who is well connected operates, let’s talk about what you can do to move into that “short list”.
But before we do that, one more thing to remember.
Don’t go crazy and spread yourself thin giving to the oxygen suckers and takers.
You know who they are. They have no qualms about asking, asking and asking some more.
While you don’t want to be a selfish giver, you certainly don’t want to be a doormat and let the takers walk all over you.
Be observant an connect with other givers. You’ll know who they are just like you can spot the fakers and takers.
By now you’re probably asking yourself, or me the following question:
What can I give someone who has everything?
I happen to have a few answers for you.
1. Give Kudos
Simply boosting them and giving kudos is a great way to give.
Giving kudos is the easiest way to give to someone you are trying to get to know better.
Share their blogs, articles Instagram posts, etc. with your own network.
You can also comment on their articles and posts.
I’m not talking about people like Gary Vaynerchuk who gets thousands of comments per post.
It isn’t humanly possible for him to read them all to find yours.
Set your sights on someone who can actually see and engage with your comments.
2. Ask for Advice
This may seem like you are asking, but people love to give advice. When you ask someone for advice, you are telling them that you admire them and hold their expertise in esteem.
3. Be a Matcher
This is a big one. You can’t personally help everyone out.
But you can match them with someone in your network who can.
People tend to open up more when they aren’t expecting you to always ask for things.
The more you get to know your contacts, the more you will learn about their pain points and needs.
4. Give Gifts
Here is a secret. You don’t have to give something ridiculously expensive to someone for them to be grateful.
Instead, make it something personalized with their name.
Just a token that is personalized does wonders.
And for goodness sake, DO NOT give them something that has your company’s branding.
That is both tacky and cliche.
5. Remember The Familia
Just asking about someone’s spouse by name makes a tremendous impact.
People are impressed when you take the time to remember not just who THEY are but also who they love.
Bonus: Ask The Givers
I know I said you shouldn’t ask someone for help.
This is a different type of ASK.
You are asking someone to pay it forward and help others, not yourself.
By asking a giver to give to others, you are creating a double-give.
I know. Mind blown.
Remember to be picky with the people you decide to invite into your giving circle.
It’s very easy to exhaust yourself with takers.
Exercising your giving muscles shouldn’t be a huge chore.
Spend a few minutes each day offering to give to the right people and you will be well on your way to an entirely different plane of networking.
Do you have a favorite giving tip?
Have you received something really cool?
I’d love to hear your take and/or experience with networking by giving.