Networking on Behalf of Others: OK or No Way?

by Shonali Burke on February 26, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends… or is it the other way around?

I get out to plenty of networking events — more than some of my friends might. And for certain events, I make a point of grabbing a stack of my friends’ business cards and taking them along. I’ll happily help out their networking efforts when I can.

I had to think long and hard about how I could most effectively do so, though, without doing any damage to my own networking efforts.

If you’re considering doing so, there are a few things worth thinking about.

What’s In It For Me?

I’m happy to do the occasional favor for a friend and her business, but there’s nothing wrong about considering the benefits of helping others network.

I’ve made plenty of connections at events that weren’t ready to work with me but were a perfect fit for a friend. Then, when those clients are ready to move forward, they remember me as the person who was able to connect them to someone else they needed in the past.

Carrying other entrepreneurs’ business cards can lead directly to landing clients, if you’re willing to invest a little time.

How Well Do I Know the Business?

To be able to help a friend with networking, though, it’s crucial to know her business very well. Many of the people that I’ll help network I’ve worked with in the past in some way. I can talk knowledgeably about what they can do for a client and explain why they’re a good fit.

If you don’t know much about your friend’s business, it’s less likely that you’ll be able to make worthwhile connections.

Why Aren’t They Networking?

The last question I always ask myself before deciding to take a friend’s business cards along to a networking event is just why they won’t be there in person. There are perfectly good reasons — like a conflicting event — and some that aren’t so great.

But if it’s a matter of a person just not putting forth the effort to network for herself, I don’t necessarily feel a need to lend a helping hand.

A lack of effort can be a sign of someone not particularly dedicating to doing the best that she can with her business, and passing along the name of such a business may not end well for your own marketing efforts.

That said, teaming up can be particularly useful for women entrepreneurs: we may not be able to be in two places at once, but with our friends who are also in business, we can still make use of multiple networking events.

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Image: Peacock Modern’s Flickrstream, Creative Commons

Thursday BramGuest post by Thursday Bram. Thursday offers content marketing through Hyper Modern Consulting, as well as more traditional writing services. She blogs about the shift between freelancing and business through her personal blog Thursday Bram and can be reached at www.twitter.com/thursdayb.

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