How to help your network out (even if you think you don’t have much to contribute)
It’s no secret that who you know is quite important. And sure, you have met some interesting and important people during your life, but how are you supposed to keep in touch with them? (Hint: Randomly sending “Long time, no see” messages to people is probably not the answer). When it comes to keeping in touch, I think a good idea is to add value to your network instead of making it about you.
But how do you do that? Sometimes it can be quite obvious. Of course you can help a coworker out with their project or your classmate with an assignment. But what about your classmates from the summer school you attended long back? Or that interesting guy you met during a debate competition in college? It’s not that obvious in such cases. That’s why I’ve added ideas on how to help your network below, along with some tips at the bottom.
5 ways to help your network out
Send opportunities their way
This is a bit of a no brainer. Everyone wants access to relevant and awesome opportunities. If you keep an eye out for opportunities, not just for yourself, but also for other people, it can be really helpful to your network. For example, during college I used to subscribe to a bunch of newsletters that aggregated news about competitions, internships and fellowships. I’ve passed on information about journalism fellowships, design competitions, travel grant applications to numerous people I know cause I knew they have the talent and interest in those particular fields. They might already know about the opportunity, but that’s not really the point here.
Promote and appreciate their work
If your circuit is anything like mine, there will be people around you doing interesting stuff. There might be someone who’s written a book, or started a funny Facebook page or maybe they came up with a better way to do something at your company. Whatever it is, sharing their work on social media (and offline) is always a nice gesture. I’m not suggesting you should share stuff randomly, but if you think something someone else is doing is cool, you should definitely consider sharing it with your followers/subscribers/friend’s list. Heck, even if you don’t share it for whatever reason, just pinging them and telling them that what you think they’re doing is awesome, is enough to boost someone’s motivation and confidence levels.
And yes, this is totally a hint that if you like my blog, you should consider sharing it with your people. 😉
Send them content you think you they’d find useful
Now, I’m not asking you to bombard people with articles from across the world. It can be as simple as tagging them in a Facebook post you think might be useful for someone you know. I think this is quite a simple way of adding value to your network and not invasive either. Just be mindful of what you’re sharing, and how you’re sharing it (for example, what you tweet to someone and what you email someone can be quite different) and you’re good to go.
Not sure how to find interesting content to share online with your network? I’ve got you covered here.
Be receptive to their questions
I know the premise of this article is that you think you don’t have much to offer to your network, but honestly that’s probably not true. You probably don’t know everything, but I bet you know something that other people in your network don’t… at least not as well. So if you ever find yourself being asked questions about how you landed that particular internship in college, or how you decided which platform to start your blog on, take the time to answer them thoroughly and properly.
Have a question for me? Check out my “How I can help you” page here.
Introduce people to each other
So you get to know that your classmate from the tuition center you used to go to is debating between joining TISS for a Human Resources course and SP Jain for a general management course. You know squat about higher education in management sciences but you do know that your neighbour graduated from SP Jain last year and she might have insights to bring to the table. You should totally send your old classmate a private message and offer to introduce them to your neighbour (check with your neighbour, of course) and see how it goes. And there you go! You’re now adding value like a boss.
Tips to keep in mind while helping your network
You have to know what people want help with: Duh, right? You can’t help someone if you don’t know what they care about, or what they might potentially need help with. So you need to pay attention to people’s posts on social media, or check in with them every now and then to learn what they’re doing and that’s how you’ll know how you can add value to them.
Grow your network this way: The ideas I mentioned are great for people you already know, but can also be used to get to know more people. With platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn which are more open, there might be people you don’t know but based on their posts, you can still add value to the conversation.
Be authentic: This is the most important tip. Be genuine and don’t take people’s time for granted. Don’t use the excuse of helping people around you to promote your own work, even when you know it won’t actually help them. Don’t send someone an article just cause you want to send them a survey for your marketing project the next day.
What’s one thing someone in your network has done for you that you’ve really appreciated? I’d love to hear your story, so be sure to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!