Ten professional networking principles
Keep the Swiss etiquette
Keep the Swiss etiquette

Building a long-term professional relationship requires time and trust. We often do not have time or we perceive time as lacking. We also might think of ourselves as trustworthy but we do not really trust people with an open heart as we might believe. I have learnt over the last few years as a professional that we all have a „trust account“. We grant another person trust when they have „earned“ our trust. It is similar to a bank. Once they have made a „withdrawal“ or asked us for an overdraft of favors we lower our trust in them or we even close the account. We also need to understand that matters of trust and relationships are culturally different so my bias on this topic is based on a German or Swiss-German culture.

In order to network effectively I recently came up with these ten professional networking principles. I would like to share them with you as I believe this could be helpful. You might want to develop your own principles accordingly.

No. 1: Define your networking purpose.

You should think about and write down what you are networking for. I would  define three goals such as „Creating a sustainable fan-base for my products and services.“ Or „Helping my clients to build better relationships in Switzerland in a shorter time frame.“ Or „Supporting young people in developing countries.“

No. 2: Build up your trust account

Before you ask someone in your network for a favor build up  your „trust account“ by helping them with a real need they have. I often read that you should send people articles or topics they could be interested in. It would be even better to find out a topic they struggle with and help them organize it.

No. 3:  Be genuine on LinkedIn / Xing

When you build up your network on LinkedIn (or Xing) you need to ensure that the other person either really knows you in person or online or has a keen interest in being connected to you. I sometimes have contact requests that I simply have to deny because I do not know the person and they do not tell my why they would like to be connected with me.

No. 4: Protect your network and their personal data.

This has become an issue over the last years. When you sign up for certain network and on certain platforms it easily happens that your contacts get spammed with emails not related to your networking purpose. Try to cut out people and platforms, which do not treat your data safely. If you share anyone’s email ID ask them for approval before you do so.

No. 5: Work on your attitude towards altruism

Networking is first of all about helping one another. If you do not intend to genuinely help other people, please do not call it „networking“. Be honest and tell yourself that you are selling through using professional relationships.

No. 6 Build your subscriber lists with voluntary members

If you are building your subscriber list it is best to have your clients and fans subscribe without pressure. This is not easy as there is a vast selection of blogs and other material that wants to be read. I find it ok if I am asked to join a Facebook fan page (and usually I like my friends pages without even looking at them). I also think it is acceptable to repeatedly invite people to subscribe to newsletters and blog posts. I do not think that you should „force“ people to subscribe or trick them into a subscription when they order one of your products. In the long run they will just ignore your emails or filter them out. Or like I just did use unroll.me to get rid of all the newsletters and updates you never read anyway.

No. 7 Follow your followers on Twitter

If you are on Twitter you should follow your followers back unless you are Kim Kardashian or Shah Rukh Khan. Stars have fans and followers. People like you and me use Twitter to network with a larger audience and globally around topics of interests such as #GlobalMobility. Define your hashtags, mention them in your bio and give people a reason to follow you.

No. 8 The best conversations are face-to-face (F2F) and 1:1

It might sound old fashioned and I really am a big fan of Skype, video-conferencing, telephone conferences etc. for work but in order to network effectively my advice is that you meet in person at least once a year.  Psychologically speaking, I believe you will only be on top of a list in a contact’s head when they see your face once in a while. In 1:1 conversations you also have a chance to talk about personal matters better than over email or chat.

No. 9 It is legitimate to ask more senior people for lunch

We sometimes struggle with asking a more senior person for lunch or coffee but it is absolutely legitimate. I also sometimes do not know how men take it if I ask them for a lunch as a woman. In these cases it might be best to name a topic you wish to go through. General rule: When you invite for lunch you pay. (Sometimes I get invited but I usually accept an invite only if I feel I have enough balance in my trust account).

No.10 Define your boundaries

If you would like to network like a Pro you should not have to apologize if you want to connect with someone. This probably means that the person is not right for your network. If making appointments becomes a hassle then it is a bit like dating. You might seem too desperate to achieve a target. I’d rather not meet then and wait until the person comes back to me with an offer.


2 thoughts on “Ten professional networking principles

  1. Dear Angela,

    thank you for giving valuable and hands on advice. Personally I find the “trust account” very important in CH and thinking of it, this might be why foreigners sometimes perceive us as cold or distant, as long as the “trust accounts” are not yet built up.


    • Dear Myrto,
      Yes. I believe you are right. We know it is just a perception as we are rather warm and cozy once you get to know us better :-). I have written about that in a post called “Networking with Coconuts”.
      Have an inspired day!

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