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Networking, superficial or beneficial?



Kirjoittanut: Seungyeon Shin - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.

KIRJALÄHTEET
KIRJA KIRJAILIJA
Never eat alone and other secrets to success : one relationship at a time
Keith Ferrazzi
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 4 minuuttia.

According to Theresa Reaume, “Networking is a marketing tool that can help you build your business and build your network. Networking is a skill that anyone can learn and improve upon with practice” (TED x Talks 2018). How many times have we heard about the importance of Networking? Networking is an important part of life and especially when it comes to the business world, it is a must. However, we do not know how to start and do it properly. The typical image of networking is going to events walking into a room and trying to strike up a conversation, and it can be intimidating and certainly not easy. In this essay, I will focus on common stereotypes of business networking, how to network properly.

 

Have you experienced feeling nervous and awkward being social surrounded by a bunch of random people and trying to do Networking there? Or have you experienced leaving a networking event with the feeling of emptiness but full of frustration? Networking is a skill that comes easy to some, but for a lot of people, it’s a skill that’s acquired (Indeed 2020). For example, we might have faced this question, “Is whom you know more important than what you know?”. For a long time, networking was perceived as something superficial and shallow to me, something that I categorized as particularly for those who are super extroverted and energetic. There were certain stereotypes that I made in my head. Coming back to the question, of course, answers can vary a lot depending on people’s fields, situations, and backgrounds, but we might have certain stereotypes behind Networking that we made in our head. So, what are the stereotypes of networking and how can we overcome them?

 

Firstly, the intentions. Business networking is about establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients. It assists you in getting opportunities for partnerships or even identifying new areas of expansion for your business (Ward 2021). It is easy for people to expect to get “something” beneficial for them, like getting jobs, meeting CEOs, or making a million-dollar contract. To achieve that, we often end up having the pressure to make good impressions every time with everyone at social events and try to meet as many people as possible without building actual relationships. Moreover, it can lead to judging people from their job titles or appearance. But we should switch the perspective from being serious to having fun and keep it simple. If you leave meeting one new person, that is already some achievement because you got one more person who knows about you.

 

Real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful. Relationships are solidified by the trust. Institutions are built on it. You gain trust by not asking what people can do for you, but what you can do for others. In other words, the currency of real networking is not greed but generosity (Ferrazzi 2005, 21). Change a question from “how can you help me” to “how can I help you”. It is better to give before you take. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit. If you feel like you do not have solid expertise and many connections, sharing what you have learned can be enough for helping people. You never know who the person will be and how you can help them. Listen more instead of trying all the time to give a pitch to others.

 

Going back to the stereotype of networking that I had, I thought networking was not my cup of tea for a long time. For me, networking was something superficial where there are no genuine human connections. Participating in a social event made this thought stronger that networking is something you start reaching out to others only when you need something like a job. It made the image of networking stronger that the desperate, out-of-work individuals scooping up every business card (nowadays it might be LinkedIn or Instagram and exchanging contacts) as fervently mingling at business conventions. Ferrazzi claims that you must reach out to others long before you need anything. It is a good approach in the business world to search for potential customers and start meeting them today. But the most important thing is to get to know them as friends, not as customers. Although today you are unproven, you’ll get a growing circle of people who believe in you (Ferrazzi 2005, 43). Why don’t we start to build it before we need it?

 

Have you faced a situation where you did not know what to talk about and stay there being awkward at a social event? Winston Churchill said, “Preparation is -if not the key to genius- then at least the key to sounding like a genius.” By researching people before we meet them (who they are and what their business is), we are more likely to build better connections with them. Try to understand what this person is as a human being, what he or she feels strongly about, and what his or her proudest achievements are. It will make it easier and more comfortable for you to walk into a room and strike up a conversation. Everyone wants to be appreciated, as William James wrote “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Once at a conference, I was moved by a person’s speech and had a chance to talk to the person. I approached her feeling enormously nervous while holding my CV in my hand. I prepared my CV, but more importantly, I didn’t research either her or her work beforehand. Before I read this book, I thought networking is about giving a pitch of myself. But I was wrong. Doing homework, researching and preparation should be done before anything. (Ferrazzi 2005, 67)

 

In conclusion, there are certain stereotypes about networking, but it is important to recognize them. Identifying those and learning how to do networking properly made me change the way how I see it from negative to positive. As it is mentioned above, it is a tool to make your life easier. It is a skill that can be acquired by everyone, not a given talent. What are your typical images of networking in your head and what does Networking mean to you?

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

 

-TED x Talks 2018. Networking for Success. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3AU8Qlh0KQ

 

-Indeed 2020. Best Networking Tips: How to Make a Connection, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVf5c7NthSw

 

-Keith Ferrazzi 2005. Never eat alone and other secrets to success: one relationship at a time

 

-Susan Ward 2021. What is Business Networking? https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-business-networking-and-what-are-the-benefits-2947183

 

-Lori A Kelling 2015. The stereotype of Networking

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/stereotype-networking-lori-a-kelling/

 

Soonie from Entre.

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