Networking is a verb. By definition, it is an action word. Thus, you cannot network by sitting back and letting the world operate around you. You need to get out there and actively involve yourself.
At work, if there are extracurricular projects to tackle or committees on which to serve, be at the forefront of getting involved. In your business, take the initiative of finding an industry association to join. In addition to your work or business, actively involve yourself with local school, civic and charitable organizations.
Action transforms you into something special
What is so special about you being actively involved? People want to associate with you when you are actively engaged in something beyond the daily minimum requirements. At these times, you transform yourself. When you become involved, you are no longer merely “someone” sitting on the fringe – actually or figuratively. You become a more central figure with very visible cares, concerns and goals.
When you set an example of action, you project yourself as a doer and a person of achievement potential. It is these prospects of success that attract others to you. From here, it is inevitable that your network will become more productive. This is because not only are you more accessible to others, but these others have a much greater interest in getting to know, like and trust you.
What else? … not how much?
Understand, however, you cannot approach your involvement with the mindset of “just how much do I need to do” to project yourself as a person of action. If you do, you convey a “how little do I need to do to get by?” attitude. This serves to say, I am only interested in taking action to the extent that it is going to benefit me, a sort of quid pro quo.
Rather, your attitude needs to project a “what else can I do?” attitude. You need to look to take action. This casts you as an actively involved person, someone who sets an example for others.
The test of active involvement
There are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes active involvement. There are certainly many levels of involvement in any setting, from the founder, initiator, or visionary on down to the person who just works in the background to make it all happen. You should simply seek out a role that seems to suit you and pursue it.
Moreover, there is not a strict guideline that would dictate how actively involved you should be. Whatever the choice of involvement, the test of sufficiency is simple. You need to ask yourself this: Is my active involvement projecting me as someone giving more than the minimum required contribution?
If your answer is yes, your involvement is sufficient. If no, you simply need to become more involved and take more action. Setting an example of action requires that you go beyond the minimum. If all we ever do is the minimum, then all we can ever expect is to obtain the minimum.
Frank Agin is the founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections. In addition, Frank is the author of Foundational Networking: Building Know, Like and Trust To Create A Lifetime of Extraordinary Success and the co-author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website and The Champion: Finding the Most Valuable Person in Your Network.