Networking – how peacocks do it differently than pandas
Give and take
When discussing about skills that entrepreneurs and businesspeople should have now and in the future, there’s almost every time someone mentioning networking. Am I right? It’s almost annoying, ’cause I think everyone already knows it. I feel stupid even writing it down. Anyhow, the importance of networking has been very well known for a long time. There’s no denying that and many people definitely take care of us not forgetting about it.
Still there’s a lot of wondering going on about why so many don’t like to attend for example networking events. It has been a problem at least in our Team company, Apaja. There are those who love it and those who seem to avoid it any way possible. I belong to the second group. Or I have unfortunately found myself there. I have wondered several times, if there is actually something wrong with me, because first of all the word networking itself makes me want to puke and secondly a thought of having to attend that kind of event makes me EVEN MORE uncomfortable.
So why don’t I like networking? Well I already said it, it feels uncomfortable. I do not say, that drinking beer and chatting with people couldn’t be fun. I enjoy it usually with my friends! Something about it in other cases than that just doesn’t seem right to me. You know what I mean? It kinda feels like I should be all over the place bragging about how gorgeous of a person I am and how amazing things I have achieved in my life. And all that for people I don’t know. For that same reason I’ve noticed that I feel very suspicious about the intensions of other people in the room too.
I’m not saying, that networking truly is like that or that my feelings towards the subject are at all true. They’re just my observations. That’s why I’m very curious about the subject really. I want to find a way to better understand it and make it easier for me, ’cause just like we know, it is important in business world. Luckily for me (and you?) I ran into a book called Give and Take by Adam Grant. The book is not about networking, but it does handle the subject in one specific chapter and does it very well. This chapter has changed the way I look networking and also taken away the fear of those kinds of situations. I’m very grateful for Adam Grant! I hope you too get something useful from this essay to take with you when you next time run into this weird thing called networking!
WHAT IS NETWORKING ACTUALLY ABOUT?
Brian Uzzi, management professor at Northwestern University, says that networking comes with three major advantages; private information, diverse skills and power. It means that by networking you have access to knowledge, expertise and influence. Many researches show that people with rich networks achieve higher performance ratings, get promoted faster and earn more money. (Grant, 2014). It is made clear probably everywhere, that networking is very useful for you!
Anyway, networking is based on interactions and relationships (Grant,2014). That is the reason, why Adam Grant is talking about it in the first place. Like I said, his book is not about networking, but networking is obviously close to the subject of how we treat others around us and how that affects our success in life. Different reciprocity styles that people have when interacting with others affects networking situations a lot (Grant, 2014). This made me understand that I could change my attitude by simply understanding communication in those situations better.
So, the networking itself is not the problem, I’ve learned. It just depends so much on how people relate to others in their network, and what they think is the purpose of it (Grant, 2014). The negative feeling that has been bothering me, is actually addressed right in the beginning. It is not uncommon that meeting a new person showing enthusiasm towards us makes us wonder whether that person has something in mind for herself or for the both of us (Grant, 2014). It is the exact feeling I talked about earlier. Is this guy genuinely interested or not? Unfortunately I at least have run into those who are only nice to you when they want something from you, but then end up stabbing you in the back or ignoring you. Have you?
This whole weird feeling about networking actually has a term! Self-serving activity. That it is that you easily sense! The reason, why it feels so uncomfortable sometimes. It is a bit nasty that some people make connections for the sole purpose of advancing their own interests (Grant, 2014). It all feels a bit fake and you can smell it from far!
But like I said, there is always the other side. It’s still amazing how people can connect and share ideas with new people. It will always be important in this world! Exchanging help, advice and instructions is always good (Grant, 2014). Fortunately networking doesn’t have to be done the way I earlier described. And not all people think of only advancing themselves while doing it. According to Grant there are actually 3 styles of networking; giver, taker and matcher. These styles create very different networks and they all have also very different consequences (Grant, 2014). So there’s nothing bad in networking itself. Just not enough people doing it for the right reasons! Anyhow by recognising these styles we can learn to tell from the beginning what kind of networker a person is and also be better networkers ourselves. This way we can change the weird feeling of it and make the best out of it!
Networking truly is all about this motive. It’s definitely not about the amount of people you have in your networks or about how much time you spend networking. All givers, takers and matchers can have equally large networks. Where the difference steps in, is the strength and reach of those networks. (Grant, 2014). By forgetting about advancing yourself, you have more lasting value of your networks and in ways that might not be obvious. And on top of that, while doing it for the right reasons, you don’t hurt other people or make them uncomfortable! Networking could be all about the great things it actually carries, if we all would just make sure our motives are right. Go to hell self-serving activity!
So can you already tell, which of those styles can make all this good happen in the networking field?
ABOUT TREATING OTHERS
– what’s the difference between takers and givers?
”If you set out to help people, you will rapidly reinforce your own reputation and expand your possibilities.” – Adam Grant
To make the world better place (and also have more success in our lives), we have to understand how takers and givers communicate differently while networking. The main thing differencing these reciprocity styles, is the motive that I already talked about. Takers want to advance themselves and givers usually want to help others instead.
Takers are the ones causing us the ”guard-up” feeling that leads us to protect ourselves by closing the doors to our networks and withholding our trust and help (Grant, 2014). That happens when we pick up on the scent of self-serving motives. That’s not a great way to try to succeed in your life. But that’s what happens if you only try to advance yourself trough your networks.
To avoid the situation of not getting anything from anyone, takers also easily turn into fakers. Many fakers have succeeded to this day and will also succeed in the future, but they can have a little hard time keeping it up. Faker’s style of interacting with others leaves little hints everywhere. These are hints showing the endless admiration takers have towards themselves.
Then how do these things show up in interaction with others? Well first of all takers actually choose very closely, who they interact with. They have tendency to know, whether they are going to get something out of others or not. They don’t want to waste time on people, who could do absolutely nothing for them. They simply want to be admired by influential people. They can be charming and flattering. (Grant, 2014). This way they manage to make good first impression to people, who can offer something for them. This is truly one annoying way of networking.
That is actually one of the biggest problems of takers reciprocity style. They are so obsessed with making good impressions upwards, but less worried about how seen by those below or next to them (Grant, 2014). This isn’t taking them far! See, when takers are gaining power through influential people and paying less attention to those below or next to them, they pursue self-serving goals very noticeably. By claiming as much value as possible from others around them, they easily jeopardize relationships and reputations. (Grant, 2014).
Takers like to put on a display! They are like peacocks; showing off and taking positions! This is what I have felt like I would have to do, to manage networking. But it turns out that it’s not the way at all! Takers see themselves as the suns of the group (Grant, 2014). They are more likely to even use more first-person singulars. This is the worst way of networking! It is the reason many people don’t go to those networking events in the first place. These takers scare them away and make them guard-up. Luckily word spreads around and these takers also usually end up cutting existing ties and burning bridges down…
”What goes around comes around!” This is probably the biggest reason why givers don’t only build better relationships with people in their networks but also succeed in their lives better. Unlike takers, givers tend to put others before themselves (Grant, 2014). For example Adam Rifkin, whose networks include founders of Facebook, Netscape, Napster, Twitter, Flickr and a lot more (that’s impressive in some kind of way), has a desire to make better the lives of the people he is connected to. Many takers would faint from even the thought of having those powerful names among their LinkedIn connections. But that’s the point; givers don’t think of people as something they can get use out of. Adam Rifkin proves that it doesn’t affect your own success negatively, if you concentrate on doing good things for others. Takers actually cause their own misery. Meanwhile givers, they care for others and because of that, they actually get back ten times more than they gave.
A giver doesn’t try to extract value out of people (Grant, 2014). Yeah that’s what I meant couple rows up. But takers and matchers actually do give too. Their style of doing it is just always a little suspicious and they fail. They do it strategically choosing who they help depending on how much they have to give back. You think someone is nice and then they come back asking for some huge favours from you, that doesn’t even make any sense. When favours come with strings attached or implied, the interaction can leave a bad taste (Grant, 2014). Givers, then again, don’t calculate on who they do good things for or go back inherit debts. They’re simply and genuinely friendly and people tend to want to do nice things back to these types of people. They are these nice pandas, who you just want to always go hug. That’s the secret. You have to understand that you can never actually tell whether someone can do really great things for you.
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU FROM THIS ESSAY
Networking is a tricky thing even though it is masked behind this fun looking activity and mainly consists of people just talking to each other. But communication between human beings is never simple and that’s what makes it a tough came to play. All players are not playing fairly and it can leave a big fear in others.
If we could change networking more towards to the action of just helping people, we would be winners. Luckily world understands more and more the concept of us being just humans and how we should treat each other like that too. We need to help as much as we can, and not worry about if we are going to get something out of it for ourselves. That will ruin us in the end. And we don’t want that, right? So let’s not be selfish bastards and let’s start wanting good for others always instead.
- Grant, A. 2014. Give and Take – why helping others drive our success. New York: Penguing books. Read 5.4.2020. Referred 6.4.2020.