Menu Join now Search

Are You a Networker or a Net-Beggar?

As Executive Managing Director of two Northern California chapters of eWomenNetwork and sponsor for three other chapters within the organization, I meet two types of people all the time —net-worker’s and net-bragger’s. I see a distinct difference in the progress of their careers because of their approaches.

Whether online or in person, there are key characteristics that clearly differentiate net-workers from net-beggars.

You’re a net-worker if …

  • You show up when you don’t need anything.
  • You practice saying, “How can I help you?”
  • You remember those you meet and often make referrals and connections.
  • You nurture relationships consistently.
  • You subtly present what you do and your goals for the future.
  • You grow and develop relationships so people easily trust you.
  • You come from a place of empowerment.

You’re a net-beggar if …

  • You show up only when you need something.
  • You practice thinking, “How can you help me?”
  • You forget who you’ve met and neglect to follow up.
  • You wait until you’ve lost your job, your business is rocky, clients are scarce, or your health is uncertain to pursue those relationships.
  • You force your agenda on everyone—whether in discussions, emails, one-on-ones, or networking events.
  • You push your own business and your own needs so much that people don’t trust you to listen to their needs.
  • You come from a place of desperation.

For years I have coached clients, “You don’t know you need a network until you need it, and then it’s too late.” That is the cause of net-begging: waiting until you need something to show up! So if you are trying to climb the corporate ladder, expand your business, change jobs, or just make new friends, start when you really do not need to!

When you act in the spirit of relaxation and openness, you will be attractive to others, because networking actually works. As a net-worker, you will never have to beg, because people will naturally want to help you.

What if you realize that you might be a net-beggar? Is it too late to change those habits? No, of course not. However, understand that net-working is about developing trust in a relationship, so others will refer you to those they know.

Here are some tips to becoming the kind of net-worker people will want to help: 

  • Work to get to know others first. Don’t start with a litany of who you are, what you do, and what your needs are right now. If you haven’t nurtured a relationship, that is too much information, too soon.
  • Work to understand what others’ needs and concerns are first, and offer help to them. Practice the mindset that asks, “How can I help?”
  • Work to listen and absorb what you learn so that when you find a connection that may be helpful to someone, you can convey it.
  • Work your personality. Your energy, humor, love, and passion will make people want to know you more and offer you trust.
  • Work on keeping in touch. Follow-through is key to being a successful net-worker.

Another amazing thing I have realized about becoming a great net-worker? You rarely have to ask for help because people are always supporting you because they know you are involved, engaged, and show up. Remember, net-working is a process, not an event! So whether online or in-person, practice the steps I’ve outlined above. You will get what you need, be respected and valued, and for sure, you will achieve success!

By Ann M. Evanston of WomenCo.