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Why Being Kind Is Your Best Networking Strategy and How to Do it

Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

I know, you’re busy. And often you’re so focused on your own work and your own development that it’s hard to take a step back—and a deep breath—and see how you can engage more meaningfully with the people around you. We’ve got you covered with this super easy networking strategy.

In my post, 7 Great Ways to Build Better Professional Relationships, I recommended kindness as a core strategy for creating positive experiences with the people in your network.

So let’s talk more about kindness as your best networking strategy

Your first strategy for shared positive experience is being kind. It’s really simple: just look for ways to be kind to others. To implement this strategy correctly, you need to treat everyone with respect and generosity, to give freely and without expecting anything in return, ro represent a culture of kindness.

I’m a big fan of the idea of random acts of kindness: doing good deeds that can never be traced back to you. Some examples include leaving a great book on the subway, making an anonymous donation, or paying for the order of the person behind you at the drive-thru. Anyone who has tried committing daily acts of random kindness will tell you it feels good. Going the extra mile? It doesn’t need to be anything more than a few kind yards.

But let’s talk about Workplace Kindness.

Workplace Kindness means adding an extra step of thoughtfulness and kindness to your daily work activities. It’s the simplest networking strategy you could possibly employ thaht contributes to a positive work environment, employee well-being, and a culture of generosity. Here are some examples:

  • Ask someone how they are and genuinely listen to their answer. Be there.
  • Say yes to someone who asks for help or a favor.
  • Teach someone something.

If you start to engage in daily acts of workplace kindness, you’ll notice a few surprising things.

Life will start to seem easier. If you’re focused on ways to be nice to others, it’ll be harder to take your own frustrations too seriously and it will be easier to keep things in perspective.

People will start naturally returning the favors, as acts of appreciation.

But most importantly, you’ll get to know your contacts in a more personal way. To keep committing acts of kindness will require you to get to know them better.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. —Dalai Lama

Herein lies the power of this networking strategy: kindness helps you develop true friendships in a professional environment in an organic way. People promote the people they like. One of the best ways to be likeable is to turn professional colleagues into professional friends. The physical health of company culture then shifts, stronger social connections mean more positive relationships and, yes, positive impact.

This doesn’t mean you have to babysit their kids, play 18 holes of golf with them every weekend, or spend every Saturday night out on the town together. In fact, you never need to hang with them outside of work. But it does mean that you need to connect with them as a complete human being and not just as “boss,” “subordinate,” “peer,” or “networking contact.”

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Think of a close friend. Could you name two or three things they like to eat? How about stuff they hate? If you were going to surprise your good friend with lunch, what would you get him?

This question is probably easy to answer for your close friends. You know their taste.

But what about the people in your office?

Let’s try the Lunch Test.

Take a moment and walk around your office. Take note of a few things:

  • Which people do you feel you know really well?
  • Who don’t you know very well but wish you did?
  • Who don’t you know at all?

Then come back to your desk and try the Lunch Test:

Ask yourself this question: If I were going to buy lunch for each of the people I saw on my walk, what would I get them?

You might know who eats Paleo, who’s avoiding gluten, and who’s a vegetarian with a nut allergy. But if you wanted to really surprise them with something they love, could you do that?

In most cases, the answer is probably no.

Food is always a great way to connect with people. Everybody’s gotta eat, and most of us find great joy in a delicious meal.

To begin expanding your relationships with colleagues, use the Lunch Test. And then…

Start to get curious about their tastes or daily routines. What kind of food do they like? What’s their favorite neighborhood restaurant? What’s the one place around the corner they will never eat at again? What’s their go-to splurge meal?

What if you were going to take them out for ice cream? What flavor would they get? What flavors would they NEVER get?

Food is just one possible kindness launching-off point.

It’s a good one, though, since it’s on the outside of the safe Social Distance Circle. But deeper intimacy begins with curiosity. As you begin to get to know people better, you will learn what kind of movies they like, the hobbies that get them out on the weekend, and the aspect of their work that gets them out of bed every morning.

As you get to know your colleagues better as whole people, you’ll naturally find that your relationships expand, your collaboration improves, and acts of kindness become the bedrock on which new opportunities will start to present themselves.

Want more ideas for Workplace Kindness to get you started?

34 Acts of Workplace Kindness

And don’t neglect online acts of kindness!!
LinkedIn Kindness

Twitter/X Kindness

Facebook Kindness

As with any public forum, be sure to respect the boundaries of social distance. Don’t risk sharing secrets or facts about someone that they don’t want their network to know about and be sure to use caution when making public gestures of support through online platforms. When in doubt, don’t reveal any information about your friend. Instead, react supportively to the information they share.

Hope you like these suggestions! If you do, check out my recent book “How to Network Without Feeling Like an A-Hole”. It’s available here!

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