Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator

Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker &
Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach - America's Marketing Motivator
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Kathy McAfee, Professional Speaker & Executive Presentation Coach
Let's Talk. 860-371-8801 or Email me

Bring balance to one-sided networking

I am delighted to share the thoughts of my guest contributor, Medina Jett. Medina is an attorney and compliance professional in the financial services industry, and is the Founder and President of Integrated Compliance Solutions Group, LLC, a regulatory compliance firm providing services to asset management and insurance companies.

Medina and I were recently discussing a problem that she often sees in networking – where one person is constantly giving yet rarely receives any networking benefit in return. We decided to call this problem “one-sided networking.”

This is not the first time that this problem has been shared with me. Mostly, I hear this complaint from professional women. It appears that the law of reciprocation doesn’t work in all cases.

Medina offers a unique insight into the problem and provides three tips to help you solve it. Please enjoy Medina’s article and let us know what you think by sharing your comments at our Facebook page –https://www.facebook.com/NetworkingAhead


 Bring Balance to One-Sided Networking

by Medina Jett

Networking is thought to be the key to business success; however, networking effectively can be a challenge for many reasons. Inherent in effective networking is the give and take that occurs when two people connect and desire to help each other further their business goals. Effective networking seeks to establish mutually-beneficial relationships. That is, you help me, I help you, and we help others, too.

Much has been written on this blog about the power of networking and how to network effectively. One interesting phenomenon is what is referred to as “one-sided networking.” With one-sided networking, one party benefits greatly from the networking while the other derives little or no benefit.

There are many reasons why one-sided networking occurs. Some stem from the failure to follow up on connections made or the inability to make a connection. Other reasons may be less behavioral in nature and reside at a deeper level of the professional psyche.


The true cost of maintaining your image of success

Some networking experiences also tend to be one-sided when one person fears needing to ask for help. This psychological inability to ask for help plagues many professionals who are thought to be “successful”. Oftentimes maintaining the image of success prohibits one from seeking help. There may be a risk of tarnishing the image of having “made it”.

On the other hand, those who may be viewed as successful are happy to help others network. Their sphere of influence and expansive networks further confirm their image of success. The problem here is that they may become stagnant due to their inability to ask for help.

While giving feels good and makes us feel fortunate that we are in a position to give, never being on the receiving end can eventually cause one’s career to stagnate.

“Sometimes high-potential women have a difficult time asking for help because they don’t want to appear stumped. Being unsure about how to proceed is the most natural feeling in the world. I feel that way all the time. Asking for input is not a sign of weakness but often the first step to finding a path forward.” – Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In (page 71)


Case study of one-sided networking

Consider Leah[i], for example. Leah is a Vice-President at a top rated company.  She is very smart and has worked very hard to achieve her level of success. Leah is surrounded by people who look up to her and applaud her success.

Because of the level of success that she has achieved and the people that she has met along the way, Leah’s network is very extensive. Her friends and colleagues frequently call upon her to make an introduction or to provide information about a particular company or person and Leah rarely if ever seeks reciprocity.

Leah views the fact that she is frequently sought out for help as an affirmation of her success, power and influence and she is happy to help.

Leah fears that asking for help will leave her indebted to someone. She also considers asking for help to be a sign of weakness – an inability to accomplish her objective on her own.

Although Leah receives kudos from her colleagues for being great at networking, she is not achieving effective networking. Hers is a classic example of one-sided networking.

Tips to help re-balance one-sided networking

If you are at all like Leah, here are some tips to help you achieve more balanced networking:

Start by making small requests of people you know well

  • Asking someone you know well for help can be a great entrée into the world of effective networking. In this more trusted environment, it’s easier to request a favor without fear of indebtedness particularly if there is a mutual sharing of information or contacts.
  • Making a relatively small request, such as “What can you tell me about your industry?” can help you get comfortable with “the ask.” Over time, making more significant requests will become easier for you.

Get over yourself

  • Everyone has reached a certain level of success.  Unless you’re Bill Gates or President Obama, there’s still room for growth. Just as others need your help to continue in their career progression, recognize that as successful as you may be, you still have some growing to do as well. Get over yourself!
  • Having an inflated view of your level of success may lead to illusions of independent escalation (my phrase for climbing the ladder of success without any help from others). Perhaps you have conveniently forgotten the help you received along the way and have the misguided impression that you must continue to escalate independently. Try networking with those who are even more successful than you. Seeing how they accept your help or even ask for it, will be clear evidence that you can never be so successful as to not need help from others.

Keep creating positive Karma

  • It could very well be that while you’ve dutifully served your network, you haven’t really needed to make a request until now. If this is the situation you find yourself in, it will certainly work to your benefit that you’ve been so helpful to others in the past. Reach out to those you’ve helped and they’ll be eager to return the favor.
  • Positive karma breeds positive karma. In other words, what goes around comes around. The assistance you gave to others may come back to you from another person that you may least expect to be in a position to help you. Go for it…make the ask.


[i] Her name has been changed for obvious reasons.

Your Networking Goal for the Week

This week, embrace the spirit of networking: “Helping others and asking for help.”

If you find yourself frequently the “victim” of one-sided networking, then it’s time to start improving your ability to ask others for help. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you really need. Is it specific connections to key people? Access to resources? Advice or feedback? A ride somewhere? A referral? Whatever it is, write it down.

Now go through your network and figure out who would be in the best position to help you. Practice saying your ask out loud. Be aware of when you are beating around the bush (the indirect approach). Rephrase your ask in a more direct approach.

Remember how good it feels when you help others?  Remember this when you ask others for help. You are actually allowing them to feel good by helping you.

If you frequently find yourself on the other side of one-sided networking, that is, the taking side; it’s time for you to extend yourself to help others. This week, with every networking phone call or meeting that you have, ask the question “How can I help you or someone else in your network?” “What’s your current challenge and how can I help you solve that problem?”  “Who are you looking to meet? Maybe I know them or know someone who knows them.”

Remember to make yourself available to network with “strangers” and help people that you don’t know yet or who may not be in a position to reciprocate. This is the ultimate expression of networking good will.


Comments are closed.


Site search

Site search

Like Kathy McAfee on FacebookKathy McAfee YouTube Channel

Site search

Become Friends with Kathy McAfee on FacebookCheck out Kathy McAfee's Youtube Channel