It’s Called “Networking” Not “Using”

Daily. Seriously, every single day, I receive a message like the following:

“Hi Paul, I’m working on an incredible new project. Can you introduce me to Oprah so I can pitch it to her for funding?”

oprah-read

I wonder do they really expect my reply to be:

“Sure, let me fire-off an email immediately to her and make an introduction.”

Let’s get serious folks!

The biggest problem people have with networking is going in for the “ask” too soon. If your networking strategy is simply about getting what you want, that’s called “using” not “networking”.

Keep in mind the #1 rule of influence is reciprocity. Doing many somethings for the person you’re building with before you make your ask will dramatically increase your ask getting answered.

The most successful relationships I have built are with people I do more for than they do for me. I give, give, give, give, give, then ask.

Sure, networking is about getting what you want but it’s also about making sure the people who are important to you get what they want, too.

 

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About Paul C. Brunson
I'm a husband, father, mentor, and mentee. The host of a weekly syndicated TV show, founder of an award winning matchmaking agency, CEO & Co-Founder of a tech startup, and advisor to several companies. If you couldn't tell from all my jobs, I'm Jamaican. No really, I'm Jamaican :)
195 comments
Janet
Janet

I loved the title but the rest left me feeling yucky. I network to meet people I want to build and grow with not people I want to prep for my big ask. If that is your strategy then you are still using. I give because I believe in the person I'm connected to and I ask because I feel they are connected to my success. Simple as.

ShadeButler
ShadeButler

I heard you talk about this post in your Carry On Friends interview so I had to find it, read it, and comment. Timing, tone, and tact will always be EVERYTHING in any relationship - personal, professional, or otherwise. Nice one.

gregorymdixon
gregorymdixon

yes,... I agree, and I like to also state that networking is really about building a relationship with a person or company,.. a few of the networking connections I've made,.. took a couple years to build but in order to be that committed, you cant go in with a "what can I get mentality" 

AndrewRobyEvent
AndrewRobyEvent

I have to admit it's a major turn off and I tend to call these people vultures.

Luther Goddard
Luther Goddard

Wow!! You hit the nail on the head Sire, true to the max...

Marsha Hebert
Marsha Hebert

I differ on this matter. The word "use" and "network" all depends on your audience. ☺

Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd
Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd

Networking is a bit of a quid pro quo. I find something I can offer, deliver it in a timely fashion, support my network's priorities and request something after I have demonstrated my value as a connection.

Ellabee
Ellabee

My white colleagues are total opposite and we get shit done.

Byelenga Ali
Byelenga Ali

It's astounding how many just don't get "using" others. I experienced this in the church no less. I was "dropped" like a "hot potato" when I would not support a business venture of a "friend". People just get a little too self-centered to realize not everyone revolves around their "universe". And that "success" begins with genuine caring for others. I think that's why "networking" just doesn't sit well with me. It just feels so contrived and not balanced with the human connection aspect.

Quando Valantre'
Quando Valantre'

Man the President of Shaw Univ was just talking about this last Saturday at our alumni meeting.

Rosalind Bakion
Rosalind Bakion

No one likes to feel used. I prefer a reciprocal usefulness aspect.

Indigo Bey
Indigo Bey

I literally just told my son this message............exactly. \U0001f49c

Eric Sean Jackson
Eric Sean Jackson

Mark Maraia, my professional coach during my Big Law days taught me something that I embrace to this day, "Networking is putting people together for their mutual benefit." It's not about what you can get.

Sheri Gill Dixon
Sheri Gill Dixon

Amen! When you go to a training or an amazing retreat such as the SOAR retreat this past weekend....you should be there for the learning, the knowledge, and the networking with people that you otherwise would not meet. Not so you can see who you can use or what you can get or be given. Don't ask for the fish! Let them teach you to fish....

Lisa Duran
Lisa Duran

That's so true and that's why I will not let anyone USE my knowledge, nor my resources again when it's clear as to what they are trying to do.

Carla Harris
Carla Harris

I don't know why someone would ask something of someone they don't know. Having a connection with someone on a social platform is not knowing someone. My thought about networking in my many years in business has been "givers get"...When you give first, it's easier for others to want to give to you. Platforms like this make it challenging to get to know someone. Paul, we met sometime ago thru a mutual friend and I would love to grab a coffee and chat...that's the beginning of building a networking relationship. Have a great day folks!

Rachel Jerozal
Rachel Jerozal

Hey Paul, I'm a big fan of Oprah. Introduce us? Lol. ;)

Melissa Severe
Melissa Severe

I rarely make asks but I always try my best to be available and helpful. That has been extremely rewarding funny enough. Its to the point I don't have to make asks things just happen naturally.

Ermila Carlin
Ermila Carlin

Yes, AMEN. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.....,,The Lord loves a cheerful giver.....Waaay too many take take takers....I have long been inspired by this concept of reciprocity. For instance when a hummingbird feeds from a flower, it deposits new seed via it's beak....thereby cross-pollinating....(PAUL-INATING) You operate in the wonderful dynamic. ...beautifying the world.....transforming the world Paul\U0001f604

Actress Shakira
Actress Shakira

I don't see anything wrong with asking. People that need help are not in the same circle. Otherwise the rich get richer and everyone else just stays where they are unless they do it by themselves. I'll understand when I get there.

Venus VH Mosley
Venus VH Mosley

I've got a story of abuse & survival for 34 years for her that she will not believe. It seems to be getting a lot of attention

Chauntele Holley
Chauntele Holley

for real! I said AMEN when you said that at the ALAS conference! ;)

Actress Shakira
Actress Shakira

Introduce me to Oprah so I can pitch her for funding lol thank you

RuDee Sade
RuDee Sade

Dear Paul, Every time you post this the number one thing that comes to my mind...is that Oprah's hair is laid like woah in this photo. I'm glad this one stays in rotation.

Pamela Harris-orr
Pamela Harris-orr

Every turning moment I find myself with appreciation , for people. like Oprah; whom share her works with world,I would love to continue my studies as a paralegal; she have obtain the force to support in giving ; Thank you for helping look forward to a better future! While others have tryed to defeat you , you keep striving which is beautiful to me!

Marsha Denise Willis-Howard
Marsha Denise Willis-Howard

This is on point. Folk will expect you to put your name and reputation on the line for something they don't even put much effort in.

Alicia Lambert
Alicia Lambert

I was taught years ago that networking is about what I can do for others. This mindset had given me so many opportunities that I otherwise would not of had.

Annie Nicely
Annie Nicely

Angels here on eart will always be called on in times of needs. Thanks Oprah and have a Happy New Years!

PaulTomlinson
PaulTomlinson

AMEN. So let it be written, so let it be done. Frankly those who don't like this post you have 2 options- you can agree and change or disagree and leave. Its simply a case of who the cap fits!

Glen McDaniel
Glen McDaniel

True words Paul. Folks asking without having skin in the game is almost an epidemic it seems. Another related issue is thinking because you know me my skills are not valuable. I am a writer, so I am constantly asked to write resumes, college admission essays, letters to creditors, critique blogs etc etc. I freely do that generally, but there are some repeat requests (with short deadlines) where I am expected to inconvenience myself to use my skills to do you a favor. Why? Happy New Year to you and family, Paul.

Frema Brenyah
Frema Brenyah

I can't believe people send you emails like this! isn't this common manners?!

Amy Tisdale Tetrault
Amy Tisdale Tetrault

Open the front cover and read" all things being equal, people want to do business with their friends".

Donna Wells
Donna Wells

I concur, when God gave me the innovative idea for my non-profit organization (Adam-21 Re-empowerment), the first thing they teach you in writing a "grant proposal" don't beg...if it truly came from God the funding will come....

Annette Fisher
Annette Fisher

Thank you Paul for giving your gift of time and always sharing thought provoking articles throughout the year. #thankful4u #keepthemcoming

LaQuetta Ward
LaQuetta Ward

I understand your frustration people don't know how to go after what they want in the right way anymore or they just expect to get a hook up but as an aspiring writer I understand their desire myself I never directly ask anyone to help me I just show what I have or see if they need my assistance in any way. It's about building relationships.