People at All Ages and Stages … are Learning How to Network!

by Sue Schnorr on December 17, 2009

Folks Say the Darnedest Things About Networking
By Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon

(This article is provided to you, try compliments of Sue Schnorr, prostate President of Training Insights, Inc. and, Certified Training Associate for Contacts Count.)

People of all levels, from CEOs to Seniors in College are learning the professional competencies of networking.

How’s your networking know-how? Check out these myths and misconceptions. They could be holding you back from creating a network that can provide essential information, valuable resources, and exciting opportunities for you this year.

That old cliché

Bob was sure he knew everything there was to know about networking. “It’s not what you know,” he said, with a cynical shrug of his shoulders. “It’s who you know.”

Not true. What you know is important. In our Information Age society, people market their minds, not their muscles, so what’s in your head is valuable. And who you know is important.

But the key to effective networking isn’t even mentioned in that cliché. That key is “Who knows you.”

Who knows you so well that when something comes into their lives or across their desks, they say, “I’ve got to send this to Frank” or “I can’t wait to tell Linda about that”? Who knows you that well?

That’s the crucial question for great connectors. If people know you, they’ll put their antennas up for you. When they hear of an opportunity with your name on it, they’ll grab it and give it to you.

The microwave mentality

Her name tag said “Marty”; her body language said mad. Here she came, steamrollering through the crowd to confront us, hands on her hips. “I tried networking last week,” she said in an aggrieved tone “It doesn’t work.”

Of course not. You can’t zap your network and enjoy the benefits 30 seconds later. There are no instant networks; you have to make yours from scratch. It will take you months — maybe even years.

Networking’s not an event, like a networking meeting; it’s a process of building mutually beneficial relationships for the long term. Networking isn’t appearing, it’s interacting. Even if you join lots of organizations, you may not have a network. You can’t buy one. You must do more than pay your dues, show up, stick a name tag on your jacket, and munch lunch. You must make personal connections.

Networks are built conversation by conversation, exchange by exchange. Networking’s not a card game. It isn’t accomplished by dealing out your business card to anyone who crosses your path. That’s merely a cardboard connection. To make great connections, pour your energy into creating vital relationships.

A manipulative approach

“Networking is getting other people to help you,” Tom said.
Oops! This sounds manipulative. If you try to control what somebody else does for you, it’s hard to feel good about networking. Manipulation is getting somebody to do something without telling them what you want. Instead, be upfront. It’s okay to tell people what you want. If there’s no mystery, there’s no manipulation.

There are two sides to networking. The biggest mistake people make about networking is to think it’s about getting. It’s not about getting; it’s about giving. That’s the side you have complete control over. Give generously.

By giving, you plug into the Reciprocity Principle: If you give somebody something, she will try to give you something back. In fact, psychologists who have studied this phenomenon say people will insist on giving you more than you gave them. That’s human nature. So, if you feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting, you are networking the right way.

Be an in-the-know networker – - a great connector who teaches people who she is, creates long-term business relationships, and focuses on giving, not getting.

Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon are principals of Contacts Count, a nationwide consulting and training firm that specializes in business and professional networking, and career development. They are co-authors of six books. The most recent is Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success (2007, AMACOM). Fortune 500 companies license their training programs. Visit them at www.ContactsCount.com and www.FireProofYourCareer.com.

Sue Schnorr, President of Training Insights, Inc. is a Certified Associate for Contacts Count.

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