Over the summer I read Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. A fantastic read and eloquent reminder of tactics on networking. Now hold on before you click out because you’re afraid of another blog post on a buzzword. I have a couple thoughts I’d like to share as I too was once an anti-buzzword kinda guy and as a young professional, I enjoy sharing my ‘eureka’ moments.
#1: Re-evaluate the goal and metric for measuring value
What I like about Ferrazzi’s approach, as opposed to the kind I was taught in my undergrad, is that networking should not be viewed on a “what can you do for me” mentality. If you pursue it for the pay off of a better job, station or income, it almost certainly won’t work. What I’ve found to pay off in dividends beyond a paycheck, is the ability to pay out in insight.
Having diverse opinions and perceptions has helped me navigate through those moments when faced with dilemmas and choices. Perhaps it is the journalist in me, but I value as much knowledge I can attain when making big choices. I’m not necessarily looking for my network to connect me as much as I’m looking for it to inform me, an action I assume my network expects of me in return when necessary.
Too often the pay off on networking is misrepresented, especially to young professionals, myself included. It’s a lesson I needed to learn, although in hindsight it was always occuring, I just never noticed it or the difference.
Now, I engage with people because I appreciate their insight far more than their tangible background or what kind of ‘hook-up’ they can get me. Since changing my perspective, the network has diversified. That’s a good thing.
#2: Digital is good, but it doesn’t end there
All that said, the role social media has played in expanding my context is significant. In 2011 I’m taking those connections made online and expanding them offline. I was inspired by Jeff Esposito’s posts on PR Breakfast Club recently relating to key resolutions for PR folks.
It can make a difference
I know number one is spot on and I’m almost certain of number two. As a check on accountability, I’ll make it a personal goal to revisit and update this blog by the end of Q1 2011. What are your thoughts on the misconceptions of networking? I’d love to hear from you and of course…gain your insight. (insert smile) I refuse to use an emoticon.