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Two-Way Street: What You Can Offer Your Network

The importance of networking is stressed early on in your career.  From this, you have learned that your network can potentially open doors in your professional career, and one of your connections could even help you land your dream job.  However, many professionals misunderstand networking as a means of simply meeting people for the sole purpose of getting ahead.  Contrary to this belief, networking is actually a two-way street of sharing knowledge and resources in order to build meaningful relationships.

While many young professionals understand this idea in theory, it can be a bit puzzling when they feel they don’t have anything of value to offer more experienced professionals.  When accomplished people boast long resumes, extensive industry contacts, and working knowledge of top companies, it can be very intimidating to even approach them.  Furthermore, those same professionals can be wary of novices trying to take advantage of them.  While you may not have 10 years of experience to share, you can certainly offer value to your network.  In order to continue building relationships that will pay off down the road, use the following approaches to offer help to your connections:

Share articles and information

Like most driven professionals, you are probably caught up on industry news and events.  Whenever you find a helpful article or an insightful infographic, simply share this with your LinkedIn network, or email it to those who might find it useful.  This is a simple exchange of knowledge that could help keep your connections up to date.  As a result, they will appreciate that you thought of them, and you could start an enticing conversation through this simple gesture.

Create your own content

Aside from simply reading industry news, remember that even young professionals have a valuable perspective, and you should voice your own opinions from time to time.  Whether you write a blog or document your experience through photography or videos, you can share your own thoughts on the industry.  When you distribute your own content in the same way you do with third party resources, this opens up more opportunities to connect over industry topics.  Plus, you’ll boost your credibility with the more experienced professionals who find your content useful.  Not only can it be an extremely rewarding way to start conversations within your own network, but creating and sharing content on a consistent basis can also help you build your online brand.

Volunteer your time

In addition to offering knowledge and resources, you can also offer your time through a number of ways.  For instance, you could become a mentor or career coach to current students, or orchestrate volunteer opportunities for a group through a nonprofit organization.  Regardless of how you go about it, this not only lets you bond with connections, but also looks great on a resume.

Connect others in your network

Lastly, you can also offer additional connections to people in your network.  If one person is hiring for a role at their company, and you know someone who would be a perfect fit, this is an excellent opportunity to connect these people and provide value for both of them.  Additionally, you may simply know two people who have very similar interests.  If you think they would get along, be sure to introduce them.  Just as you’ve learned, the people you know can be incredibly valuable—not just to you, but to others as well.

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