When I speak to groups or individuals about networking, I am often met with questions from my audience centered around the themes of “Why would someone, who does not know me, want to help me?” and “I feel like I am taking and taking but don’t have anything to offer my networking contacts in return.” I first penned some thoughts on these topics back in June 2012: You Have Something To Offer Your Contacts, where I highlight ways one can return the offer of assistance.
Today, I take a slightly different approach in that I propose the simple act of asking for help can benefit the one who provides assistance. Although the Bible will state otherwise (Acts 20:35), I want career seekers to think about how their receiving of help is a gift to those who provide the assistance. Sounds strange? Consider what Henri Nouwen wrote for the April 3rd entry of his collection entitled “Bread for the Journey“, paraphrased below:
The Importance of Receiving
Receiving is often harder than giving. Giving is very important: giving insight, giving hope, giving advice, and most of all, giving ourselves.
But receiving is just as important, because by receiving we reveal to the givers that they have gifts to offer. When we say, “Thank you, you gave me hope; thank you, you allowed me to realize my dream,” we make givers aware of their unique and precious gifts. Sometimes it is only in the eyes of the receivers that givers discover their gifts.
When I read this, it made sense. When I have helped others, I often feel a level of satisfaction or fulfillment from the effort. This internal gratification is felt when one knows he/she did a good thing for someone else. By allowing others to help you, you are allowing them to experience this inner reward.
For those who are hesitant to embrace networking out of concern of being seen as only taking and not reciprocating the help, consider that you could be helping others by allowing them to help you.