Someone emailed me this week asking me to define networking in one sentence. Here’s my personal definition:
Networking is strategic information-gathering and/or interpersonal connecting.
Then again perhaps not since so many struggle with it. Allow me to add that networking is:
- Selfless rather than selfish. A champion networker gives before she attempts to get.
- Organic in that it evolves over time in response to emerging career needs. Hence your networking goals change daily.
- Is focused on the present or future, not the past.
- Tends to become progressively more specific as time goes on.
- Is systematic and purposeful rather than haphazard or random.
Said another way, networking is social “leap-frogging” to build relationships with the connections of your connections.
Networking is not asking favors or expecting others to find you a job. After all, it is work.
The bottom line? If networking isn’t working for you then the odds are very high that you are doing something wrong.
You may be:
- Asking the wrong questions or asking questions that aren’t specific enough. If so, use a different or more specific query.
- Talking to the wrong people. If so, network to find the right ones.
- Trying to get results from a network that is too small or in the wrong industry. If so, use LinkedIn Groups to expand your networking reach exponentially.
- Giving up too soon. If so, persist!
- Asking favors before you build relationships. If so, build first and leverage later.
Networking is more about giving than getting. If your only focus is what you get out of it then you may want to revamp your approach and consider what you’re giving in exchange — a poor or non-existent offering is a waste of your time.