Networking – Something You Do or Something You ARE?

Earlier today, one of my Twitter friends, life/brand strategist Walter Akana tweeted an intriguing question. He asked: How do you keep your networking skills continually refreshed?

My answer: I try to think of networking as a way of BEING instead of something to DO.

Another Twitter friend, Megan Fitzgerald, an expat career and entrepreneur coach, replied: I think networking is about giving (form of doing?) Using your brand to help others. You could say BEing of service.

I love the synergies Megan creates between doing and being…I think these are terrific ways to think about networking for job seekers.

Of course, I advise my clients to network. We talk about “netweaving” – the fact that networking is about relationships. We talk about how to practice to work a room and the fact that everyone is a great networking connection, because you never know what you may be able to offer a new contact and what he or she may be able to offer you!

I think the most successful networkers are those who aren’t necessarily looking for something, but are focused on the fact that networking is something you can try to become…Become a connector, someone who likes linking people together for their advantage.

In his book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell defined connectors as “people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances.” In our digital, Web 2.0 world, success will depend more and more on our ability to broaden our professional circles and to reach out to a diverse socio-economic group of people representing a mix of opinions and beliefs. Professionals who habitually introduce people who otherwise may not meet earn goodwill and reputations as valuable resources and colleagues.

In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says, “…Community and alliances will rule in the twenty-first century…[success is] dependent on whom you know and how you work with them (291).” He asserts that living a truly connected life is a prerequisite to success. For example, Ferrazzi mentions that Crain’s 40 Under 40, a list of rising stars in an array of fields, aren’t necessarily the best businesspeople. Instead, he suggests that they are probably the best connected businesspeople.

The value of connectedness is never more heightened than during uncertain economic times. Anyone who has been reading the recent “how to recession proof your job” articles and blogs will realize that they inevitably share one common piece of advice: Network for career success.

When networking becomes you and inspires you to act on behalf of others, you’ll know that you are achieving true networking success.

We can get you on the road to true networking success by teaching you how to approach networking, writing your resume and helping you every step of the way!

photo by cascadefoto

5 Responses to “Networking – Something You Do or Something You ARE?”

  1. 1 Walter Akana June 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Hi Miriam!

    Great post! And thanks for the hat tip! Actually, I think the idea of being a connector and a resource are truly important for networking success. Making it your business to build genuine relationships, and finding natural opportunities to give, as Megan points out, are keys to networking success. The more you strengthen your relationships and the more good will you build, the more likely you’ll find that people are willing to help when you need a hand.

    I also believe that it takes a bit of inspiration and motivation to keep one’s networking skills fresh. Liz Lynch, Executive Director of the Center for Networking Excellence, and owner of The Stealth Networker Blog is a terrific source of both. I’ve blogged about her work here: I encouragge your readers to check out the post and then check out Liz’s “Passport to Networking” series (links in my post).

    I hope that more people will find ways to make networking a natural part of who they are as opposed to a transactional approach to meeting their own needs first.


  2. 2 Miriam Salpeter June 23, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Walter – Thanks for your comment and inspiration for today’s post. I’ve looked at Liz’s work and agree that she offers some great information and advice. Looking forward to continuing the conversation on our blogs and via Twitter!

  3. 3 Megan Fitzgerald June 23, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Hi Miriam,

    Great post – and thanks for the mention! Both you and Walter have fantastic thoughts on this topic.

    Being a connector is an excellent mode of “being” or “doing”. Unfortunately,the way some people seem to think about networking prevents them from focusing on other people, which is what makes networking work. Those who “give” or “connect” and seem to be acting with clear expectation of return can end up hurting their reputation rather than helping it.

    I too look forward to continuing the conversation on Twitter – it’s a great way to connect!

    In choice,

  4. 4 Miriam Salpeter June 23, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Megan – Thank you for stopping by and for your great tweets! I like teaching about networking as a way of giving rather than a way of taking/expecting, as I think it helps clients overcome the “isn’t this just using people” mentality. Going out with the hope of helping someone else is a great way to “connect” with networking itself 🙂

  5. 5 Michael Cayley August 26, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Great post Miriam.

    I will be interested to learn more about Megan’s advice on expat careers. The kinds of expat positions have changed alot since I was in China for five years.


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