Positive Networking Print
Written by Husen   
Monday, 21 April 2008 21:30

Since I started business school a year ago there is a myriad of networking events going on around me every month, and I just could not get myself to go to these events despite the pressure from peers, professors and others. No doubt, there is a lot of pressure today, especially in the business community, to network.  So finally, I decided to attend a workshop about networking given by Darcy Rezac because I wanted to settle this issue for myself for good. And I told my self that after this event I will either start networking effectively or I will decide that networking is truly not for me and stop doing it altogether. I went on the day of the workshop and he started by asking a question. “How many people attach a pejorative sense to networking?” and I was probably the first person to raise my hand. He points at me asks me “Why do you think so?” So I gave an answer that Mr. Rezac confirmed was not unique. I said, “Networking implies using human relations for very materialistic ends and I don’t like that”.

 

After sitting there for two hours I developed a completely new view of networking; a view that is positive, constructive and that I can share with a lot of other people who either dread or otherwise hate networking. Please read on to know what networking is really about.

 

The main problem with my view was that I saw networking as a selling exercise. As such it can be highly stressful for many reasons. Selling implies that other people are judging you and so you fear making a fool of yourself. Selling implies success or failure and most people fear failure. Selling implies that I am trying to manipulate other’s thoughts or feelings to achieve my goals. And that is what made networking stressful to me; however the truth is networking does not inherently include any of the aspects mentioned above unless we make it degenerate into that.

 

Networking for purposes of this article can be defined simply as making new relations with new people and these relations will be whatever you make out of them, good or bad. They can be sincere, they can be fake, they can be long-term, or for direct short-term gain. The best approach to these new relations according to Rezac (and I completely agree) is to approach networking having in mind “what can I do to others” and not the other way around. What does that mindset imply?

 

That means that you are not manipulative but are actually seeking to know what the other person’s concerns are because you are interested in them as a person, not as a business owner per se. When you think of it that way you will be too busy trying to understand the other to have time to think of whether you look like a fool, or whether the last thing you said sounded stupid. You will be more comfortable in your own skin, you will be able to make new relationships every time you network and you will feel better about yourself. This frame of mind is called positive networking. Positive networking is about what value added you can bring, and about how you can help others either directly or indirectly.

 

This help does not have to be anything grandiose. Sometimes this help can simply be a piece of useful information you give them in a casual conversation, sometimes it is a contact that you connect them with, and just listening to people attentively can sometimes be a big enough a favour. At the same time there is nothing wrong with seeking your self-interest in networking. In fact when you establish rapport with others you will feel much more comfortable sharing with them your concerns and what they can do to help you. This is what Benjamin Franklin referred to as “self-interest with a higher purpose”. Yes it is legitimate to seek self-interest in networking but you are also looking to bring value added to the community, to the group you are in, or to the world at large. You must always think with a mind set of “What can I do for others?” and this will in itself make you feel ten times better when you are dealing with others and it will make your interactions more sincere, more fulfilling and it will put you beyond the stress of putting up a good face for sales purposes.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 April 2008 14:05 )