So, you think "networking"
is a new phenomenon? a growing trend? a buzz word? Well, it has existed since
time immemorial. Proof: "No room at the inn? Can you recommend a barn
... with a manger?" Sound familiar?
and shared information is the foundation upon which civilization has been built.
The community concept is built on communication. We just need to remember
that civility is crucial in networking. How we behave is as crucial as knowing
the unwritten rules which must be followed.
As one of my clients raised
on a farm said, "Susan, we always networked. We just called it being neighborly'."
Historically, barn-raisings are the ultimate networking event.
You hammer a lot more than
your point across! And, careers have always depended upon networking: the assistance
There are myths about networking
that must be set straight. Networking is NOT a work style; it is a LIFEstyle
that can enhance our personal and professional lives.
Myth: I don't have a
Truth: Everybody has
a network. We are born into one, went to school with several: grammar, high,
Lived in neighborhoods
Served in armed forces
Belong to clubs, bands,
teams, fraternities/sororities, service organizations
Action: Know who you
Even I don't have a 100
percent grasp, but as events happen, I remember people I know. Go through the
periods of your life, the class photos and yearbooks. Visualize your neighborhoods
and neighbors. List the names of people you remember. Think about the jobs you've
had. Who were your colleagues, co-workers, competitors, vendors? You may want
to do the activity on your computer, if you are so inclined. Or, like myself,
with paper and pencil. Go through old address books, Christmas card and holiday
lists. And, don't forget the people who are in the periphery of your life, yet
are a great source: cleaner, barber/hairstylist, mechanic, computer consultant,
carpool cronies, local merchants. You will not remember everyone at the first
sit-down. Once it is plugged into your truly personal computer (your brain),
you will begin to remember more - add names to the list.
That list is a reference
tool. How we use it is as important and when and for whom. It may be to connect
a nephew with a potential mentor. Or a colleague with a great mechanic. It
is NOT always about us.
In time of need, people
band together and help. We see it after earthquakes, fires, floods, when friends
are stricken with illness. People are generally nice.
Myth: People should know
what you need and offer to help.
Most people are happy to
help when they are asked. At a marketing seminar we gave at the Chamber of Commerce
over a decade ago, one attendee said that he was disappointed because other
people often didn't assist/help/return a favor. He asked, "Shouldn't people
know what I need?"
Truth: Most people don't
know what they need - how can you assume they know what you need! A tenet
of life and networking:
If you don't ask, the
answer is always no.
RoAne Rule: How you
ask may make the difference between yes and no!
Yes, Grandma was right.
It is often HOW you say it, not WHAT you say.
The best of networkers ask
in a way that allows people to say yes - and gives them room to say no.
One of my favorite cartoons
had a character explaining: "What I lack in know-how, I made up for in know
who." Who we know, and who knows us, is key. How to relate to and converse with
those people determines the quality of our connections.
People want to be treated
as people not as contacts!
The best of networkers don't
even know that they are networking - they just do: refer, match, recommend,
bring people together like - Yenta, the Networker.
Myth: Networking is using
Truth: Networking is
a reciprocal process.
It is mutually beneficial
where we give and receive and share ideas, information, leads, referrals, support
and tickets to cultural and sporting events, and laughter with enthusiasm, support
and joy. Science has a term for it, which applies to networking: interdependence.
Our grandparents had a better word: Helping.
Action: Assess the postings
in your "favor bank."
List the people for whom
you have done favors. (This may be tough because many of us give our favors
without strings, and it could just feel unseemly. Do it anyway!) Why? Because
most people want to clear the slate!
List the people who have
done favors for you. Whose advice have you sought? Called to check out someone
or something? Taken you out for beers, lunch, had an extra seat to the soccer
game or symphony. Or like Ben Franklin, when he wanted to made a friend, who
has loaned you a book? By the way, did you return it?
Know who you know. Know
who you owe.
"Networking is not using
others; it s a process of utilizing sources and resources and being one yourself,"
according to the late Sally Livingston, "femtor" and a pioneer networking advocate.
Myth: I don't have much
to offer, so I can't get involved.
Truth: We all have something
Our skills, interests, avocation,
hobbies. While no one has ever asked me for a recipe, I can offer information
on great restaurants and take out! And, tips on the publishing and professional
- List the things that
you do well in your job. You may be an ace at internet research, a whiz
at strategic planning, drafting proposals or organizing the after-work bowling
team or relay teams for corporate games. Have you mentored others? How?
- List your hobbies:
quilting, fly fishing, rappelling (a sport aptly named!), hiking, biking,
car renovations, woodworking, antiquing, gourmet cooking. Maybe you are a
great wordsmith or brainstormer!
Knowing what we do well
allows us to know what and how to contribute and gives us the confidence to
know that we can!
RoAne's Rules: Build
your Rolodex. The Rolodex is a metaphor for the base of business
and personal contacts and relationships that you have just by being on the planet.
Value those contacts and treat people well. And your network will enhance your
work . . . and life.
The Ten Commandments
- Acknowledge the gifts
from others leads, presents, ideas, information, support. Send handwritten
thank you notes. We all want recognition and to be appreciated.
- Stay in touch when you
need nothing from others phone, fax, e-mail, U.S. mail, and ... in person.
- Be generous ... share
ideas, thoughts, support, time and laughter with others.
- Be involved ... be seen
on the scene.
- Pick up a tab and treat
someone to their lunch or latte!
- Observe the etiquette
of and (un)written rules for networking (The Secrets of Savvy Networking,
- "Good mouth" others pass
on praise you have heard.
- Keep your sources in
the loop; let them get the news from you!
- Follow up, follow up,
follow up in a Timely and Appropriately Persistent (TAP) manner.
- Have Fun! Life is too
short and too long to do otherwise.