Have you asked yourself what you can get from this person before networking with them? Adam Grant is one of the youngest tenure-track professors at The Wharton School with an outstanding teaching record. He has been rated as one of the most highly rated professors in the world. Based on his research, which includes prosocial behaviors like helping and giving, he believes that approaching networking with the mindset of “what can I get?” is not a very effective approach.

Giving Is Effective

In his recent New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Grant maintains that you can achieve more by giving to (that is, helping) others rather than taking from others and believes that the best way of doing so is a strategy of generosity. He also expresses that “if everyone networks with the mentality of “what can I get?”, then no one gets anything.”

Grant says that networking with a purpose (ie. to help others) helps you build a good reputation and can make things a lot easier for women by avoiding the ‘double bind’ problem. It’s only natural for those in your life to want to reciprocate and when you go out of your way to help someone, they are naturally motivated by the feeling of gratitude. They will then go out of their way to repay favors and over time you’ll earn a reputation as being generous.

“This translates into broader, more useful relationships,” says Grant. He also speculates that trying to help others is one way of negotiating a double bind. Women are expected to be warm and assertive, but not at the same time – which influences them in networking. Women can approach networking in a way that is warm and assertive at the same time, without coming across as forceful.

You Can Be Helpful to Anyone

Can you offer help when networking with people from a variety of fields or people who are older than you? Grant thinks that no matter what the person is, you will have something to offer them. He explains that if you approach someone and ask, they are giving you what they can, and receiving isn’t as bad as taking. Essentially, it is still a contribution to society. Telling this person how they contributed & that their contribution had value to you is important according to Grant. An additional step of paying it forward and passing the knowledge along is a great idea too. Grant says that if you feel like you’re not qualified to help or advise someone older or more experienced, you can instead offer your help to their children. For example, if they’re interested in college study abroad programs.

Giving Without Being Taken Advantage of

You might be wondering if you are being too nice for your own good. Grant says there are steps to avoid being exploited or ruining your networking opportunities. He advises it’s important to first clarify the context in which you’re trying to help someone. He suggests saying something like this: “I just met this person. I cannot vouch for their character, but I’ve felt they were someone you would be interested in meeting.”

In addition, Grant recommends seeking feedback on the introductions you have made. Introductions, an application created by entrepreneur Robyn Scott, tracks your introductions and allows you to receive feedback on them to help you make more and more powerful ones.

When you think about networking and the benefits it can bring to your business, the most common associations are probably making connections and securing beneficial relationships.

Watch Adam Grant’s full Office Hours to learn more about his book, prosocial helping and giving behaviors, work motivation, meaningful work, burnout, and leadership!

For more pearls of wisdom, be sure to follow Grant on LinkedIn and Twitter and follow the conversation using #LevoOfficeHours.

Join Forces of Women Professionals

Stay empowered, inspired, and connected with a network of incredible women. Subscribe to our email updates today and be part of a vibrant community driving change together. Don’t miss out on exclusive content, events, and opportunities. Together, we’re more vital! Subscribe now!