Ed. Note. The following post is part of the Career Collective series of monthly posts.

The best way to find a job is via networking, people say.  And the second way is via the company’s own career page on their website.  My company finds all those company websites with careers and presents them to job searchers on www.LINKUP.com.  But my article today is about networking and how it looks from my side of the table.

I get asked a lot to “network.”  It might be because of LinkUp or my blog. Somehow people feel comfortable asking me for advice.  That is all good; who among us does not like being asked for advice?

First reality—everyone loves to give advice or help you.  Be sure you ask for either of those two things when you call or email someone for networking.  It is hard to resist.

But let me tell you about two separate networking events that happened recently.  Both people contacted me via other acquaintenances.  I did not know them, at all.

I met the first man for coffee, mid morning.  I was on time, he wasn’t.  He wasn’t THAT late but he was late.  I noticed.

After literally 30 seconds of small talk of the “I was late because of traffic” variety, he literally pulled out a yellow pad, and a pen and asked if knew anyone who needed a logistics executive with his skills as he pushed his resume across the table.  It was almost like he expected me to skim his resume and start spouting off contacts for him.  I made some small talk as best I could for a short time, and then made a hasty exit.  I am sure he left thinking “what a jerk.”

And then a few days later I met another man for coffee.  He was there when I arrived, score.  And he had already emailed me AND mailed me a pre-meeting thank you for agreeing to the meeting, and included his resume in both.  Score.

We made small talk.  But mostly he asked about ME.  He wanted to know about the companies I had started, which he knew about.  He asked questions about their product lines, how we developed them.  He knew, or apparently knew about some of the problems we had had.  He foundLINKUP.com to be an outstanding and helpful website for job seekers.  He had used it and commented on some of our features and functions that we have developed for job seekers.

Even better, he wanted to know the WHY behind LINKUP?  I told him that we believed that job seekers needed some real help out there, that our company’s main goal was to help people find great jobs, and do it as freely as we could.  He seemed to like everything I had to say.

He got me, of course.  Score.  This is the hidden secret of networking.  It is not about you, it is about them.  The more you ask, the more they like you.  It is just human nature.  I was thinking how I almost found a new friend, he was so interested In ME.  And here he was asking for MY advice.  Score.

And then, we got around to business.  He had prepared an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper laid out in a grid.  He had printed every company he was interested in, the contact person’s name, number, email address, linked in name, and issues now confronting that company (his own analysis).  My new friend left me his sheet and simply asked if I knew anyone from these companies or who might know these people.  Score.  Here is the sheet as near as I can recall.

So instead of me trying to think up random contacts, here was a sheet of paper that was a constant reminder of his own efforts.  Score.

Guess which one I helped more?

Here are some other articles on this same topic from some experts in the field.  Check them all out today.