Here’s what they don’t you tell in networking classes: you have to be ready to ask for what you need. Say you are wrapping up a call with someone and they say “Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”
Your response should start with “Well, as a matter of fact…..I was wondering if you know…”
When you are offering your expertise, it is perfectly fair to ask for something in return but usually, we are so flattered to have been asked that we forget.
When someone thanks me for helping with their resume, I could put on my business development hat and ask if their company is hiring. Or I could ask if they might be willing to put a recommendation on linkedin.
When someone asks to borrow my French press coffee maker, I usually ask if I could have a cup, too.
This is not to say that everything has to be reciprocated. Life should not be one negotiation after another. Just be on the lookout for ways other people can help you and don’t be shy about it.
People want to help. It makes them feel good but they can’t read your mind. You have to spell out what you need even when you think it should be dead obvious.
So put it out there. Keep thinking and keep asking. You’ll be surprised at what can happen.