The concept of "giving" as a job search and career advancement strategy isn't new.
Becoming memorable - indispensable even - to your network through giving back is considered networking done right.
Networking, after all, is really built on creating and nurturing real relationships with others, and when you can give to others you create goodwill that will come back to you eventually.
But you may be wondering: how it's possible to give so much without becoming depleted?
You already have so many demands on your time and energy.
How can you go around connecting with and giving to every person you know (and to new people you don't yet know) as a way to build up goodwill that may (or may not) translate into benefits for you in the future?
"Giving burnout" happens when demand on your time, energy and mental space is overloaded and causes the openness you'd like to give with to shut down.
Any giving done beyond the point of giving burn-out is done with resentment. It doesn't feel good to either the giver or the receiver.
Giving burn-out can be prevented by giving less, but when you're on the hunt for a new job or to expand or use your network for any other reason, giving less doesn't seem like the right approach.
Another way to be able to continue giving and networking effectively that will still leave you intact is to give what you already love to give.
While networking, you're very strategic. You'll undoubtedly be on the lookout for the right people to help you with your goal.
You'll actively seek out people at a company you're interested in, or look to talk to someone who has had a specific experience you're interesting in also having.
But when it comes time to give back to your network, how much do you think about what you actually enjoy giving to people when you decide to be helpful?
Right now, instead of giving strategically, you likely just give when you see the need (and you risk giving burnout).
For example, you might enjoy being a problem solver, and think nothing of sitting down over coffee for an hour with someone to brainstorm a few ideas.
You might get a thrill from connecting two people who you think need to know each other.
Or you might get filled up by being a sympathetic ear for someone who has had a few too many hard knocks this week.
Whatever it is that gives you joy to give should be your go-to gift for your network.
See where you can use it and who needs it wherever you go.
That's not to say that the gift you love to give will be what everyone in your network needs, nor will it be what everyone in your network needs from you.
But by giving this gift as much as you can, you will refill your internal tank and avoid feeling depleted. You'll also naturally limit the number of people who are going to ask you to do something for them that is outside of your "zone of natural gifting," because only so many people will be calling on you at any given point.
Another benefit of giving what you love to give is that you begin to become known for your gift. People may even begin to seek you out because you are a connector or a problem solver.
And having your superpowers become known among your networks can only help with any job search or business efforts you're working on.
Giving your way up the ladder, or getting ahead though giving what you love to give might sound like a gimmick. But in fact, it's the exact opposite. It's all about bringing authenticity to both sides of your networking relationships - what you need and what you give. You're brining in your real self and your needs, strengths, joy, and empathy into the relationship.
The real way to create a win/win networking relationship is to give to someone else while feeling that you're doing what you want to be doing at that moment. Not feeling distracted, or resentful, or a little angry. When you can give to people in your network with an open heart, then you'll finally be building genuine relationships with people.
And that's what networking really is all about. It's about creating a relationship built on warmth, openness and genuine empathy, not showmanship under the guise of helpfulness.
Follow Jessica Sweet on @WishingwellGift
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