Do you know what your network needs?

“How can I help?” This may be the most important–and least asked–question when it comes to strengthening your network and building a reputation as a future resource.  We tend to not ask because we don’t want to appear ”nosey” or “forward,” or we are not sure we have the knowledge or expertise to help.  What can you do to know how you can help?  Create a “networking IOU list.”

An IOU list is a way you can keep track of where people are in their career journeys, and identify the types of needs you can help with during a particular stage of someone’s work-life.  

 The IOU list helps you to know how you can best be a resource. The first step is collecting information—after all, the more you know about a person, the more helpful you can be. Some people consider the following information essential; jot it down about members of your network so it will be handy when you need it. Start with the current company name, job title, and contact info–include her preferred or nickname.  Additional professional information such as major responsibilities; background info including knowledge on his products or service, a major business issue facing the future of her industry or business and key past employment facts.  What brought him into the profession or industry? Future career dreams/goals.  Also note memberships in community groups, professional organizations, volunteer efforts–it will tell you a lot about a person’s interests and give-back activities. As appropriate, you can also note family info and specifics like favorite restaurants, reading, and movies.

Having this information handy will help you offer help that is appropriate to that person’s situation. 

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