Networking Does Not Have To Be Hard…
Your network is your net worth…Porter Gale
This post is specifically about networking. I wanted to write this because I feel it’s such an important topic for ANYONE. Whether you’re in the startup scene or someone who’s an academic, networking is an important terminology for all. Everyone has their own unique definition when they hear the term “networking.” For me, I think the one word that ALWAYS comes to my mind is RELATIONSHIP.
When it comes to networking, I value the term relationship before anything else. To me, networking isn’t about trying to grow your friends list or trying to gain an advantage to grow your business and make more money. Networking is about growing and building relationships. It has so much more in terms of meaning and value to me. If you google the word “relationship” – this is what shows up:
“the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.“
The key terms from the definition about are: “two or more” and “the state of being connected. Networking is exactly this. It’s not a one-way street, but instead, an aspect of being connected together. By networking correctly, one can grow even more as a human being, whether it’s intellectually, spiritually, emotionally or something else entirely. For example, if you are in the startup game and just trying to get your new company off the ground, every single person you meet will most likely tell you that YOU MUST network in order to grow and scale. However, I feel that sometimes this can be a trap for some as they may not take the time to fully think about what his/her definition of “networking” really means to them. Instead of taking the time to think carefully, some may rush to just dive right in so they can quickly achieve success. Of course, I am not saying this cannot be obtained and I am sure there are a ton successful case studies out there, but this post isn’t about who is right or wrong, but instead, about my personal viewpoint on what networking is.
Networking aka building a relationship(s) doesn’t necessarily always have to be about achieving success. To build any relationship, requires commitment and building a human connection. I’ll try and provide an example. Have you ever attended any kind of event (whether work related or not) and met an individual where you just bonded right away? I can definitely say “YES” to this question. What usually happens afterwards? From my experience, it usually led to me continuing to build a relationship with that person through some form of communication (in my cases it has always been through email). I have always been a firm believer in that life is all about creating relationships and in order to do so, requires some form of follow through. Best thing that I’ve learned is you don’t have to spend countless hours focusing on how to grow your network or how to continuing networking in general. All it takes is simply finding time at your convenience and putting in a few minutes at most to focus on WHICH relationships you truly value the most. All it takes is ONE relationship. You never know how by building one meaningful relationship, can lead to several others, whether through a friend of a friend or simply through a flat out introduction, ultimately may lead to other surprises.
So to sum it all up: NETWORKING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD! Even a short hello/checking in message, whether via text or email or any other form of communication preference, can go a long way. Take the time to think about someone who you have always thought of just checking-in with or sending a brief message to see what they have been up to. Now, I suggest simply doing it (I will too!).