Here are some selected sections of the chapter about networking, Expanding The “Who -You-Know” Quotient from Speak Easy, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success available through Word Craft Press:
Many people think of networking as a primary job search tool. As much as that’s true, it would be foolish to see it in such a limited way. Networking is much more than a critical job search ingredient; it’s one of the key factors that contribute to good career development and successful career management. Moreover, it’s a primary and essential life tool at every level and in every facet of human activity and human endeavor. The exact same networking concepts can be applied in limitless life arenas from recruiting, sales, fundraising, and taskforce development to the pursuit of a life partner or the search for a good electrician or a new school for your children. It’s extremely rare that any person can exist and thrive without networking.
How often have you heard statements similar to these?
> “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
> “Networking is the key to finding a___ (job, spouse, plumber, etc.).”
> “He made it to the top because he’s part of the Old Boys’ network.”
> “She didn’t make it because she was so busy with her nose to the grindstone that she never paid attention to making connections with the right people.”
We will encounter much more success in all of our endeavors when we recognize the high value of gathering information from real people who’ve traveled the road before us and of building strong and lasting bonds with them.
The word, NETWORKING, is used so freely and widely that its basic meaning has been diluted and it has lost many of its most important nuances and benefits. When career advisors emphasize the importance of networking, they often neglect to teach its subtleties adequately and to fine-tune their clients’ networking communications well. It’s easy to see why many jobseekers think that networking is simply informing as many people as possible that they’re looking for a new job.
Certainly, letting people know you’re looking for a new job is a much better strategy than simply sitting by the phone, waiting to see if someone will call you up to offer you a job. However, if your bottom line is no more than a numbers approach of seeing how many people you can get your resume in front of, the benefits of the fine art of networking will be sadly missed and the process of continuing the endeavor will become stale and unrewarding. After all, how many times can you say to someone, “Here I am again, still looking. Got anything for me?” No wonder people become so disenchanted with networking – both on the asking AND on the receiving end!
Since the term, NETWORKING, is so freely used and so often badly leveraged, I’d like to refer to it in other terms going forward. My definition of this word appeared a few paragraphs back:
The high value of gathering information from real people who have traveled the road before us and of building strong and lasting bonds with them
To alleviate its limited and stereotypical definition, I’m going to rename NETWORKING as R&R: Research and Relationships. The “N” word translates into the R&R formula:
Research and Relationships
Gathering Information/Building Connections
It’s also fun and gratifying to refer to an activity like NETWORKING that people find difficult, tiring and demanding as R&R, a known acronym for Rest and Relaxation. How delightful to re-label NETWORKING communications with a symbol of pleasure and satisfaction that people always seek out and appreciate!
Whenever people are energized by the subjects they’re talking about, others are drawn toward these speakers. Without passion for a topic, even if it’s your unanswered quest to find a new job, you will find little enthusiasm from others around you. The trick is to find the elements that you can remain passionate about and make sure they’re at the forefront of your R&R communications.
An unappealing image that often blocks people’s natural agility in and genuine enthusiasm for networking communications is the hat-in-hand beggar needing a handout. This empty-plate approach to networking is what gives people such an uneasy feeling about it and what takes them so far away from the main concepts of R&R: RESEARCH AND RELATIONSHIPS.
Finding ways to engage others in conversation about your key interests and to demonstrate how knowledgeable you are ensures a much better approach to people and a much higher success rate in obtaining meetings with others. There’s also the added benefit of feeling strong and focused when you’re sitting down with someone to have an important R&R conversation.
So often, people begin a request for a networking meeting with, “I’d just like to pick your brain.” This clichéd phrase inserts a terrible graphic picture into the process and contributes, on both sides of the communication, to the concept of begging or neediness. Picking a brain is what vultures do to dead animal carcasses. Picking a brain is a one-sided approach to a conversation and demonstrates taking from someone rather than contributing to a dialogue. In contrast, if the request for an R&R meeting is to brainstorm ideas together, the stage and tone will be set for an entirely different communication. Brainstorming is a two-sided (or multi-sided) approach to a conversation and demonstrates bringing something to the table to engage in a give-and-take dialogue.
Next Friday is Christmas day and the following Friday is New Year’s so I will wish all readers health, prosperity and happiness and will write another posting in 2010.