As a legendary Smurf character Grouchy would always say:”I Hate….(something)”, the same way I would like to say: “I hate Networking!” OK, perhaps “hate” is too strong word, but definitely, I dislike Networking. Sincerely.
Or, should I rather say that I really don’t like networking gatherings – the whole idea of artificially organised events where people come, have some drinks and finger food, and then try to find a “victim” for the evening – a person whom they “need” to meet in order to accomplish their goals, whether it is further connections, research interest, or something else.
Most of networking events I have been to were organised by the university or various companies in order for people to find opportunities and new connections. However good the idea is, I wouldn’t say that I benefited from these gatherings. Going around and having a small “chat” with people – the proper “I don’t care about you” chat, but “I’m trying to hear where you work and on what position are you in”. It is just odd. And then, you see people following proper school examples of “good networking”, and looking what their “victim” is drinking so they can be extremely nice and put another drink into the glass, thinking that’s the way to do it. The whole situation looks more like cattle in the market. So fake.
My question is: What do you see in a person you are approaching? What is your first association on someone’s name? Perhaps, the name of the expert in your field, or successful business manager, CEO, entrepreneur,….etc. Do you see the money, connections, power, and opportunity associated with the name? Or, do you see a potential friend – a smiley face willing to answer your question, direct you to other people, and be your mentor?
My idea of networking is different. I love people. Seriously. I enjoy the company of people around me. i enjoy sharing honest relationships and surroundings where you can mingle around, talk, listen with interest and understanding, not only for the sake of it. I just love talking with seniors and listening their experiences, absorbing every good advice they can give. Also, I totally love speaking with my peers and listening about their creative ideas, successes and challenges. I love it all.
I don’t care about their position or their names (not literally – I respect people and want to know their names but I often forget them after two seconds…). I care about the way I feel around these people – based on the way they talk, they look and behave. Somehow the whole idea of emotions following the conversation is more important than the proper content.
Networking in small groups is my option. That is the environment where you can actually be listened to, respond to and be advices. Honestly. Not because someone will prosper of listening what you’re saying, but someone is actually enjoying your company and your personality. Someone cares about you because of what you are, and not because of your position. That is what matters for me. I matter. Not my position, that can change according to the market or hiring manager’s mood in the morning. I matter as a person, not as a job description. I am human.
I am the first one always to promote networking and its benefits and challenges. However, the whole idea of networking is changing, luckily, and there are some smart business people that recognised the potential of small-scale (small groups) networking events. That is the real thing, with real people trying to meet other real people. Not only their titles.
The example of this kind of networking is the initiative of networking groups for women. I can recommend the concept – i myself had several female groups throughout my education and it is the best supportive group every women can have. I definitely recommend it!
For more information about the women networking concept, visit the link Network Circles Changing Business.
- Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In circles form in 50 countries (nbcnews.com)
- How to Network to Your Net Worth (essence.com)
- How to Network to Your Networth (essence.com)
- Why Your Network is Critical to your Future: A Conversation with Porter Gale (socialmediatoday.com)
- How Networking Can Help You Become the Best Version of Yourself (nobis.org)
- The Value of Our Leadership Choices