Top request amongst clients at the moment is for networking workshops. Where fear lurks about redundancy, or falling sales or survival of an entire organization, networking provides a life raft of hope. But with less pressing need too, people want to develop their networking skills to learn and to build partnerships. We view it as a modern, usually cost-effective way of working , with some employers starting to include evidence of networking in appraisal.
If this idea makes you shudder, then this post tries to make networking easier.
Perhaps you’re assuming (wrongly) what’s involved is naked self-promotion. But networking is about conversation, exchange and connection. Just ‘doing networking’ will lead nowhere if you’ve not thought through what you bring to the party. Being clear about ‘What do I offer others?’ prepares you best to play the networking game of:
I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours
Some of us love to prepare for whatever we do. We should play to this as a strength. Here are some of the most common roles we play as networkers. Are there one or two of them that suit you best?
Your purpose when networking is emotional, to give others a laugh, new sense of perspective or endorse their self-image. Online we can experience this by visiting cherylcerl or dianainheaven at twitter, or zenhabits and sethgodin to feel cool and enlightened.
Being a mood-lifter involves more than empathy, a stronger projection of emotion. It’s about entertaining, inspiring, reassuring or even satirizing others.
You are what The Tipping Point describes as a maven, in itself a maven-like book, with its application of social psychology to various aspects of life. You are likely to be steeped in knowledge and news about your subject area and geekishly delighted to share this with anyone who wants to know. Learning is more important to you than influence.
You are socially promiscuous and enjoy having many friends through social or live networking. These may be through what psychologists call ‘weak ties’. People Connectors can always find ‘a person who does’ and will often facilitate people from different parts of their lives meeting up, if they spot common ground. Their top question is ‘Where’s the connection here?’ . Wielders of greatest influence, these days.
You are very interested in other people and what makes them tick. This role is a sanctuary for the shy person as it offers them the opportunity to ask lots of questions of others , going from the bland and general ‘What is keeping you busy at the moment?’ to the more specific ‘And was that your first experience of horse whispering?’.
If stuck for inspiration, adopt this role – it takes the heat off you.
You are able to give advice and opportunity to others without requiring much in return. Starting out, a friend took me along to a networking talk and meal. The woman next to me asked me what I did. She said ‘ We need your services at my place. I run Gatwick Airport. Phone my PA on Monday’. They were clients for seven years.
Benefactors derive satisfaction from mentoring others and seeing potential develop. They deserve much appreciation.
More posts about this subject soon. Meanwhile as the festive season approaches, please enjoy creating your networking output , as much as considering ‘what’s in it for me?’.