We’re all familiar with networking. You go around and meet people who work in similar fields, hoping that eventually, you’ll meet a few people who will prove … how can we put this tactfully? Mutually useful. That’s the gist.
A more organic approach
You’re networking to get ahead. We know this. Everyone you’ll talk to about your job knows this as well. A classic strategy is to beef up your Rolodex (read: contacts list) with the info of everyone you come across. That might make for some fun socializing if you’re an extrovert, but what if you’re not? As it turns out, we all have something to learn from those who more tactfully and decisively approach social situations. By strategizing like a “superconnector,” author and CEO Scott Gerber says, you’ll build networks and communities more effectively and thoughtfully. This will give you a real advantage no matter your field.
Gerber’s book “Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matter” carries a subtitle that tells you exactly what you’re getting into. Gerber emphasizes the importance of having the right people in your network, as opposed to building a big one that you can’t utilize for any specific purposes. He says that the smart networker isn’t networking so much as connecting. They’ll attend a big conference and pick out a handful of the best people and talk to them. This is more effective than trying to get to know everybody, and it will lead to a better result. He’s an advocate of making real connections over handing out business cards, and he believes that empathy and emotional intelligence will lead to a better quality of connection. These connections will still result in success, but you’ll be building long-term relationships instead of using people transactionally. If you’re more engaged in how a person can benefit you and less interested in what they do generally, you’re on the wrong path.
Networking is an important skill, but it may be time to reframe it for yourself as “connecting”. Connecting will help you foster healthier creative and business relationships, and will give you connections that you can utilize over the long term. If you think of people as people instead of useful objects, you’ll find that your work relationships will be more fulfilling.
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