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Networking is Not Working: Why it's failing you

vickilanger profile image Vicki (she/her) ・2 min read

What I recall is something like "talk to people because you might need them later".

networking /ˈnetwərkiNG/
noun

  1. the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

If I recall correctly, the way networking was explained to me was very similar to the definition above. This is what is so very wrong. It sounds selfish, self-serving, and narcissistic. Other people are not there for your use.

I realized a while ago, it's best to just build relationships. Ask people about the things that matter to them. (If you see me around, ask about my pets). The point is, networking is good, but you need to care about other people. If you're at a networking event, talk to people. Ask them about what they do for work, what their hobbies are, or maybe about the weirdest thing they know.

Networking is more than just exchanging business cards and contact info. For example, I've made good friends at Venture Cafe, a weekly networking event. All of the attendees always seem to desire to help each other and learn about each other.

Last month, I read “Networking is the best insurance policy” in Entreprenuer magazine. Jordan Harbinger wrote about how he was pushed out of his own business and how he used his network to get back on his feet. There were two big things that stood out to me in this article.

something an old colleague said. He described networking as “digging the well before you’re thirsty” -- that is, constantly cultivating trust and loyalty with the people around you, with no immediate expectation of return.

I'd like to add that building relationships is best done when you have no expectation for return.

Every day, I text four people from the bottom of my text message inbox to reconnect. “Hey! Been a while,” I’ll write. “What’s the latest with you?” We rekindle our connection, and I try to spot an opportunity to be of service.

I would personally find this to be very draining on my social resources, but I think it has a great foundation.

Discussion (2)

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mjsarfatti profile image
Manuele J Sarfatti

This is golden advice! Networking events have always been borderline painful for me until I realized it is not about extracting value from others like some kind of ATM machine 🙏

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vickilanger profile image
Vicki (she/her) Author

I think the hard part is that people talk about networking like it’s meant to be a way to extract value.