While you may have spent a great deal of time building up your network, you may not know how to utilize that network. Once you have a list of dozens to hundreds of contacts, what do you do with them? If you make a wrong move, you risk losing those new associations, so you should know the etiquette associated with maintaining professional friendships. This guide can help.
Give Before You Get
It’s a good idea to find out what you can do for someone before asking that individual for a favor. While you also don’t want them to feel obligated to help you, doing something nice for them can put them in a more giving mood. Networking with entrepreneurs is more successful when it leads to reciprocal relationships.
Get Advice From the Right Source
Imagine you have been networking with a real estate attorney and have developed a good rapport with that person. Turning to them for cybersecurity advice may sour that relationship. The attorney may have a good security system installed in his office computers, but it’s likely that he has an IT professional caring for it. Asking him for advice unrelated to his professional field can put him on the spot, while leaving you with advice that may not be as accurate as you believe.
Avoid Using Relationships to Promote Your Brand
If a colleague offers to promote your brand or share your links, of course you should take advantage of that opportunity. However, you can destroy a friendship if you offer to help someone as a means of tricking them into marketing your brand for you. People resent feeling forced to help someone out of guilt, so putting a friend in that situation may end that relationship. If you want their help, simply ask for it without using manipulation to get their compliance.
Keep it Professional
Managing any type of relationship is tricky, so you should proceed cautiously in networking with other professionals. You’ll want to avoid asking too many personal questions or discussing sensitive topics. Similarly, it’s wise to avoid discussing your own personal issues. Avoiding talk about politics, religion, and sex is always a good policy.
Following these rules will help you maintain a strong and broad network. You can enjoy the benefits of having this vast collection of associates as you develop stronger bonds with each of them. Additionally, treating your existing associates with respect and courtesy will help you to continue to grow your network over time.