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Networking: More Thoughts About the Starting Point – Why?

by Rick Baker
On Feb 11, 2008
How can business people ensure networking experiences are most productive? We can optimize networking by understanding:
  1. Our Own Networking Goals
  2. Other People’s Networking Goals

Understanding Our Own Networking Goals
As networking opportunities arise, test your goals against the situations. When your goals are incompatible with the situation, adjust your goal, then your behaviour. For example, many tout the 30-Second Elevator Commercial. Such a tactic might work at events such as trade fairs or business-after-hours sessions. However, I have yet to hear anyone confirm that the pitch actually worked in an elevator. Rather than placing emphasis on such ploys, make sure you have a kit of communication tools. From your kit, pick the right networking tool for the specific networking job.

Understanding Other People’s Networking Goals
It is best to keep it simple. That can be done two ways. We can listen to the other person. If we listen well then the other person will sooner or later make their networking motives clear. There is no point trying to sell when the other person wants to learn about your family tree. There is no point seeking family-tree details when the other person is in the middle of a sales spiel. Assess. Adjust accordingly. Another simple approach is to ask the other person questions, “What do you enjoy most at these events?” If the event is titled a networking event then ask, “What does networking mean to you?”

Closing Thoughts:

  • When in doubt about networking – listen.
  • If you truly care about other people – ask questions.
  • If you know the person is a Connector – don’t be shy, be direct.


Networking: The Joys of Connection

Networking: Some Thoughts About The Starting Point - Why?

by Rick Baker
On Feb 3, 2008

Most business people would agree networking can be defined as 'two parties sharing information'. But in many cases, that broadly-defined starting point is our only point of agreement. People may agree on that definition while they disagree on why they are networking. If two people attempting to network do not share the same motives then their networking efforts can cause frustration and wasted time.

Why do we network?

Overall, we network to share information. But... 'Why?'

  1. Do we desire to: Give information? Receive it? Both?
  2. Do we expect commercial/business results? If so, when?

Our motives for networking dictate our behaviour during networking. And, our motives for networking cover a broad spectrum.

At one extreme, we have people who expect networking to provide immediate commercial results. Using Malcolm Gladwell's 'model', such a networker might seek out a Connector and ask a blunt question like, “Can you connect me to someone who wants to buy my widgets?” If I understand Malcolm Gladwell accurately then such an approach can work, because Connectors are special folks who get their kicks making these connections.

Many networkers would be shocked and annoyed by a direct commercial assault such as the one just described. For these people, networking is not the place for direct, commercial activity. It is not the place for sales spiels. Rather, they see networking as a way to get to know people by listening and learning… building enduring relationships. For others, networking – even if it is done at a business-networking event – must never be commercial. Their only networking goal is to learn personal information, first-hand.

Closing Thought: To maximize the value of networking, we need to understand the 'Why?' behind the networking... some more thoughts at next issue.


Networking: The Joys of Connection

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