By Kirsten Land
May 9, 2024

Your best networking tool? What you give.

Want to build an effective business network? Make it about the other people, not yourself.

Would you call yourself a giving person? We all want to be generous, but few are genuinely gracious. Even the most generous among us hope to receive something in return for their gifts, even if it is just a solid thank you or atta girl. 

But truthfully, your biggest differentiator in building a network of people that will evangelize you and your business isn’t about you. In today’s competitive business environment, the conventional networking wisdom often revolves around what you can gain. However, a transformational approach gaining traction among successful professionals is the philosophy of giving first—focusing on what you can offer without an immediate expectation of receiving. This mindset makes your giving more accessible and builds your network for the long haul.

Who am I?

Since this is my first column, let me start by introducing myself. I’m Kirsten Land, the owner and CEO of Land Enterprises Roofing. We’re located in Edmond and do business all across the Oklahoma City area.

My husband founded the company in 1986 and ran it until he passed away in 2019. But even when he was running things, I had a passion for building lasting relationships, which greatly influenced how I’ve networked with others over the years.

What does generosity in networking look like?

Generosity in networking is about making a conscious decision to provide value to others without focusing on your benefits. This strategy is rooted in the belief that helping others succeed will eventually lead to personal and professional rewards, often surpassing original expectations. 

A famous Zig Ziglar quote states, “You can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.” I have found this to be true. By helping others and giving without the expectation of receiving, you build a trusting foundation and sharpen your axe while at it. 

It can be something simple like sharing expertise through a blog post, sharing a meal with someone new and young in your industry, hosting a free webinar, or being active in community forums where you provide helpful answers. These actions may seem small, but they significantly contribute to the ecosystem of your industry, creating a network of people who respect and value your input.

When you start incorporating generosity into your networking, it changes the dynamic from competition to collaboration. This culture of sharing can lead to more meaningful connections where each interaction is seen as an opportunity to enrich someone else’s professional journey and your own. Regularly engaging in these activities fosters a community that is more willing to cheer each other on. Doesn’t that sound like a community you want to be in? A part of?

Building long-lasting relationships

One of the most significant benefits of a giving-first networking strategy is the development of long-term relationships. These are not built on the shaky ground of self-interest but on the solid foundation of mutual respect and appreciation. Such relationships are more likely to withstand challenges and evolve into partnerships with reciprocal value over time.

Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with your goals so you can work towards them as a community. 

The ripple effect 

The impact of your generosity continues beyond the people you help directly. Each act of generosity can create a ripple effect, inspiring others to pay it forward. This can greatly increase the positive impact within your network, leading to a more supportive and interconnected industry.

While the principle of giving is based on selflessness, it can be helpful to think strategically about your generosity. This does not mean keeping score but ensuring that your efforts are impactful and aligned with your professional goals. Choose activities that help others and allow you to demonstrate your skills and deepen your expertise.

Transforming your approach to networking by focusing on what you can give rather than what you can get can change your professional relationships and your entire business landscape. By adopting a giving-first mindset, you position yourself as a leader who not only contributes to the success of others but also sets a standard for the future of networking.

Generosity in networking is not just about altruism; it’s about setting a tone that lifts everyone involved. It’s a powerful strategy that enriches your professional life and ensures your network is strong and genuinely supportive. As Zig Ziglar pointed out, helping others achieve their goals is a surefire way to reach your own, creating a community of success built on the foundation of generosity.

How can you be generous towards your team, family, network, and community this week?

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About Kirsten Land

Kirsten Land is a longtime Edmond resident and business owner passionate about connection and service. Leading the charge at Land Enterprises Roofing after her husband's unexpected passing in 2019, Kirsten finds and conquers new leadership and businesses daily. In her free time, Kirsten enjoys spending time with her two boys, Evan and Daniel.