Networking is more than a skill — it’s a practice

JULIE CHASE | JAN 31, 2020

I’m reading “Give and Take” by Adam Grant — I’m only 20% into it, but am already loving it. The premise is that we’re takers, matchers or givers and what that means in terms of building a successful career. It turns the idea of “nice guys finish last” upside down. Adam pioneered research on leaders across a wide range of research that shows extraordinary results from givers.

I just finished the chapter on networking and was thrilled to learn about the power of dormant ties — people we used to know but have lost touch with. He asked leaders to reach out to 10 people who they hadn’t spoken to in at least 3 years and ask them for advice on a project. Not only did they all respond, but they all provided valuable feedback with fresh ideas.

This makes a lot of sense. Our closest friends and colleagues most likely know the same people and do the same things as us. Dormant ties are part of a much more diverse network, have unique experiences and most likely don’t know our constraints. So they provide a unique perspective. His research also found that dormant ties are more likely to help because the relationship is based on trust — no matter how many years have passed.

There’s a lot of trepidation around networking with most of our clients. Most of the anxiety stems from misbeliefs such as networking is too salesy (focused on getting something) or it’s only meant for extroverts (especially when it comes to events). It’s also really hard for them to believe they have something to offer and to ask for help.

When they look at their network, I hear the same reasons on why they don’t want to reach out, like “I don’t know them well” and “I haven’t spoken to them in forever.” After some encouragement, they’ll finally reach out and guess what, they’re always surprised. People from both camps, especially the dormant ones, respond and offer to help. In fact, more often than not, the most helpful people are ones they didn’t even have on their radar.

Networking is not just essential to your job search, it’s also essential for your career. And when done right, it’s also a lot of fun! Here are some ways you can network:

  • Ask your colleagues (past and present) to grab coffee or lunch. Learn what they’re working on, about their team or company.
  • Reach out (or ask for intros) to new people who have a similar job or are in a role or company you’re interested in.
  • Connect people with aligned interests to one another to help them solve a challenge or fill a role.

Networking is a practice that can help you grow your personal and professional development. It’s an opportunity to strengthen relationships, meet new people, learn about industries, companies, jobs, share your knowledge and connect people.

IF your intentional goal for 2020 IS making a strategic career move, then please reach out to us. We’d love to talk about your goals and how we can help you achieve them with speed, ease and success!