Everyone talks about networking like its best way to find the right job. There must be a key to this approach beyond just going to networking meetings and signing up with one of the online social networks. Here is some advice I have read about how to do it right.
What passes as “networking” today is a joke and can make some people feel like a jerk. If you feel awkward about networking it’s probably cause you don’t want to act like a jerk.
Lets look at some ways that networking is marketed to the public.
- Networking meetings
You have no doubt been invited to networking events. Many people attend, but you only spend about 2 minutes with each person. Afterwards you are expected to share your closest business associates and contacts. These events have gotten a bad reputation because they are very impersonal and many connections never pan out to anything.
What is the point of meeting someone if you have no common ground, and there is no value in your connection?
- Online Networks
These are even more problematic. You sign up, add the names of co-workers, former employers, university peers and friends. Then the network merely links you to other member with similar backgrounds or industries.
These networks make many connections but there is hardly any emphasis on the quality of these connections. That is the most important part: The quality of relationship. Social networks suggest that having numerous contacts is more important that having good quality contacts. The focus on the number of links you have. These networks want more links because they profit from size. The more members they have clicking on one another, the more they can profit from selling ads and digital “services.” Its quite a contradiction.
People who benefit from online social networks are the people who know how to turn a first meeting into a healthy long-term relationship. They know it requires a considerable investment – time and energy. There is nothing automated about it.
I think there are three tenets to real networking.
- Common ground
People have to have something to share that is useful to others. Find common ground.
Good networking is sustained by value. Giving your “elevator pitch” and a business card is worthless if you don’t engage the other person. Provide a tip that benefits the other person or ask an honest, sincere question about their work. Don’t fake it.
Good networking does not happen over night. It takes time. Trust between people grows through repeated good experiences. The best way to become well-connected is to meet and actually stay in touch.