Do you have anyone in your life that will speak the truth to you? I’m speaking of unfiltered, unadulterated facts…Well NextGen speaker, Mary Abbajay of the Career Stone Group experienced a dose of “truth serum” when her sister explained, “ No one offers you anything because you’re not nice.”
This pivotal moment became the starting point for Abbajay to take a deeper delve into the world of networking. She started working to hone those keys qualities that would allow her to make genuine and authentic connections, — and turns out it starts with being nice, cordial, and being someone that people want to help!
Abbajay defines networking as the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. At the Next Generation of Government Training Summit on Monday, Abbajay provided us with 8 Game-Changing guidelines that will put you at the TOP of your “Networking Game”!
#1 Building Relationships & Create your own Network
“What’s in it for me?” is a common thought when thinking about how to advance beyond the status quo, however Abbajay suggest the networking is actually truly about giving! You must leave a “Positive Wake”, which is simply leaving someone with something great about you and the encounter.
“Build them before you need them” according to Abbajay. When thinking of ways to create your network: Build Coalitions though your Primary, Secondary and Tertiary connections. Get Exposure to other government agencies and private companies. Think About what community organizations can you join (i.e. GovLoop or Young Government Leaders) are all ways to create a lasting network!
#2 The Favor Bank
Turns out mom was right: the law of reciprocity is real, and life isn’t just for the takers. It’s actually for those who are willing to give more than you get! In a nutshell, the Favor Bank is all about figuring out how, once you build those sustainable relationships, how are you going to utilize them. Abbajay noted the key to the bank is:
- You have to give more than you get
- Make frequent deposits
- Be generous
- Be thoughtful about your withdrawals &
- Don’t break the Bank
#3 Don’t Break the Bank
Having a “bank” you can go to is essential in the networking arena. You must remember to be mindful of how you use your relationships for yourself and others. So here’s a little etiquette when it come to the “asks” we commonly request of those in our circles:
- Don’t overuse them! Be mindful of who you introduce people to
- When asking for favors, be specific and make it easy for the person to reply
- It’s okay to say no to favors! Sometimes you can’t do everything BUT still see how you can help individuals
- Repaying Favors! Pay it forward
#4 Personal Impact is Essential!
What do you want to broadcast to the world?
First impressions are lasting impressions, so be careful how you interact with people. Abbajay cautioned not to judge people by their titles because you never know whom they are connected to. Be authentic and someone that people like because people will want to help you! Body language is key, in that your body is always speaking for you!
#5 What’s your Status?
And we know in Washington, it’s all about status!
Notice the difference when President Obama walks into a room and when your Director walks into a room. When it comes to building your personal brand, status is extremely important, so be conscious of the levels involved.
Every interaction involves status, so you must always rise and maintain-respect each level and adjust behavior. Keep this in mind, people with lower status will come to you, but always do what you can to raise their status, you never know how they will progress in their careers.
#6 Develop an attitude of Gratitude
Saying “Thank you” is the most important part of the networking process that people tend to forget. Abbajay reminded us to remember to say thank you and to always show gratitude to those who have helped us with making connections. In fact you can make it part of a weekly regime by:
- Think about who you need to thank
- How will you thank them? Electronically, personally or handwritten note?
- What will you thank them for?
#7 The Absolutely Nots
Now we all know what to do when it comes to networking. But what about what not to do? Abbajay outlined some “No Nos” when it comes to Networking:
- Don’t give the impression you want something from somebody; networking is not about getting a job or selling something!
- Don’t constantly scan the room for better contacts
- Don’t overreach & expect instant friendships
#8 NextGen Networking Challenge
Abbajay challenged us while at NextGen to put our skills to use! Here is the challenge: Do you think you can do the following?
- Make three to give new connections (with people at NextGen)
- Provide Value to your new connection
- Use you networking skills
- Follow up!
So I ask each of you, are you more structured or organic when it comes to networking? At this session, I learned that it’s all relative. What’s really important is developing your niche! Narrow down works for you and develop your own unique networking style! It will pay off, and before you know it you’ll be a “Networking Rockstar.”
From July 20th – 21st we’ll be blogging from GovLoop and YGL’s Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Follow along @NextGenGov and read more blog posts here.