Joined: 13 Dec 2006
Location: Cleveland, OH
|Posted: Dec Sun 17, 2006 2:20 pm Post subject: Give up Networking
|Give up Networking
Feature Article: Give up Networking, Please!
by Jennifer White
Enough of this thing we call networking.
That doesn't mean I want you to stick your head in the sand and think you never have to talk to anyone ever again. But what it does mean is you need to give up what you think networking is all about. As an executive coach, I work with clients all the time who want to expand what they call their "networks." They believe that knowing the right people gives them choices. They tell me that strong networks allow them to always have new opportunities falling into your lap. Who you know -- and who knows you -- is a critical skill in today's economy. I know that, and I advocate having friends in the right places. But a network? Pleeeease.
I have a number of clients right now who want to build up their networks in order to find another job. They all know that the best jobs are found through people who know them and know their work. But many of them are hesitant to start networking. They've all told me, "I don't want to schmooze when I have so much to do here at the office." And they're right. Schmoozing has nothing to do with finding new opportunities. Here's the big problem with networking: You become so focused on building that darn network that you forget what you're really doing is creating relationships. Each contact becomes a number, not a human being, and you sabotage your ability to build friendships. I hear people brag that their database is full of thousands of contacts. So what? What I want for you is to have a database full of friends. People you talk to weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. Folks you're excited to see when you meet and people who you're genuinely interested in.
I don't know about you, but I've been to numerous networking events. I call them meat markets. You show up, exchange cards with everyone in the room, and when you leave two hours later, you haven't really gotten to know anyone. So you go back, type in a bunch of business cards in your computer and you think you're on top of the world. "Look at how many people I met," you tell yourself proudly. "I'm going to be rich when I leverage these contacts." What you really get is a big fat nothing. Not one person you met in that crowd became a friend. The real way to expand who you know is to become friends with people. Focus on creating powerful relationships, not building a network. I'm sure you want a little advice on how to move from networking to relationship building. In my book, "Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create The Life You R%ally Want," I write about the one thing I see that prevents you from creating powerful relationships. Get over this, and you'll find the success you're seeking.
Stop trying to impress everyone.
You try to impress other people bykname dropping, talking about your expensive car, or how much success you've had at work this year. Or maybe you wear expensive clothes, give elaborate gifts, or pick up the tab every time you're out with someone. Ah, and don't forget about the times you act like a know-it-all. What you're really doing is trying to cover up your own feelings of inadequacy and trying like heck to impress the other person.
The real question: Who wants to be friends with someone like that?
It's just about impossible to create lasting friendships when you're so caught up in trying to prove that who you are is good enough. Building friendships is about sharing interests, having a good time, and admitting when things aren't as great as they seem. It's about being true to who you are. So what if you're disorganized or in debt. What people really care about is your character and integrity. Push down the walls and trust that who you are is enough. You are.
So please, stop networking. Instead, focus on building friendships. I promise, you'll never have so much fun building your business or your career as when you're hanging out with your friends.
© 2000, The JWC Group. This article was written by Jennifer White, president of The Work Less, Make More Group, and author of the bestselling book, "Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create The Life You Really Want!" (Wiley & Sons). You can reach Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org