I’ve never felt that networking events have helped get me a job. Everyone seems to be there to give out as many cards as possible before the evening ends and to keep the conversation as light as possible. This being said I love to network. Getting to know new people. I love it especially when I can find out what they are passionate about.
The question “what do you do?” is particularly challenging. That question is just… argh. On some level it feels like you are about to be judged and graded as important or useless depending on your answer. When I meet someone I want to know what they love to do. I want to know what makes their life shine. In fact, please comment on this and let me know something that makes your life beautiful.
What has made for successful networking for me is building real relationships with people who share my values. For the past 6 years any time I have needed to find work it has come from my personal network. Not from someone who gave me a card and I never saw or spoke with again. That is not to say that I haven’t expanded my network with big events, only that the network itself is filled with people that I made a real connection with. This group of people is one with which I communicate regularly and see several times a year at least. I like to be able to count my business colleagues as friends and if they also happen to run successful companies that’s fine. My primary interest in their friendship is the friendship itself. I also value their intelligence and our ability to have a good conversation about moving the world into a better place.
The Rise of Trust
We’ve developed a relationship of trust. We help each other whenever we can – but that is not the basis for the relationship. I can share details about my personal life because I expect that I won’t be judged. Maybe everyone doesn’t need these qualities in a business network, but these are important values to me. I find it easier to do business with full transparency. With transparency one doesn’t need to remember what someone knows and doesn’t.
What I would like to see rise up in networking circles is more interactions designed to help people get to know each other in meaningful ways. Let’s make it happen!