The When? Where? When? of Networking
I commented on a LinkedIN post by David Morrison of Barclays this week and it got me thinking. However let me first set the scene by sharing David's initial observation:
"On route to Aberdeen this morning-heading to a Chamber lunch, I notice a lot of people, looking like mainly business attire on the train sitting in silence or on pc, ipad, phone or nose in a book. Would it not be great for early morning long journeys that there is a networking carriage? Must be missing an opportunity to meet and expand our networks..."
David's post has attracted 1172 likes and 272 comments to date. So the topic is obviously popular (as is David). The responses however have mixed sentiments - rather like marmite - as you'd expect. Folks vary from agreeing that the idea of a networking carriage is either fantastic to detesting the concept aligning it to the Seventh Circle of Hell. I wonder which side of the argument you favour?
Unfortunately, networking has a poor reputation. In my experience, many people dislike or fear networking. The same people claim it doesn't work, however let's not make assumptions that they are unfriendly, perhaps they have just not had a positive experience or really would rather read a book, sleep or work.
Nonetheless folks are polarised in their opinions about networking full stop. Personally I don't "Do" networking in the classic sense. Yes I run confidence workshops that focus on communication and networking is a large part of that masterclass. However, as a behavioural strategist, I know that doing things differently will make you more memorable. And at my entertaining networking events, you are guaranteed to laugh while you learn how to stand out for all the right reasons.
When you network professionally and with the right attitude, it can be one of your most powerful business and personal development tools. Effective networking today is nothing like old boys’ clubs, schmoozing or working the room. Doing networking ‘right’ means using it strategically.
Where to Network
Arguably the most clever time to network is when you DO NOT NEED to, so perhaps on planes, boats and trains is indeed a clever concept. In short, networking is about building relationships. Showing people that you care about their needs and that you want to help them. Building a rapport with people when you don't need anything from them makes common sense to me and with luck they'll be happy to help you when you DO need it.
When to Network?
If you have the attitude of willingness to assist others, then networking is something you do naturally during each day and throughout your life. In its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with those who share similar interests. It’s about listening, caring and sharing.
Incidentally, here's my reply to David's post:
Totally agree David. In the meantime, I create my own #networking dialogues. I often connect with hitherto strangers on LinkedIn before leaving the carriage. And guess what, it's led to fascinating conversations and of course... to business".
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Read more about networking on trains :) Beyond Bullet Points