Where was I? Oh, yes, networking

18122007534[photo left: temporary fake night club built for a film shoot (haven’t figured out yet which film) built on the spot where at weekends Borough Market is]

Where was I? Oh, right, networking advice. Some of you asked for some wise words. I’ll have to disappoint you, I’m afraid. I don’t think I have much to offer, but there you go.

The one thing you need to know about networking? Don’t.
That’s it. That’s my advice. Just don’t.

Oh, I can’t let myself get off this easy. I’ve thought a little bit about it, and examined why that was my first kneejerk reaction to being asked about advice about networking. I have seen too many cases already in my short life of networking gone horribly wrong. I’ve seen my share of slimey, insincere conversations with whoever is highest up the totem pole (ignoring everyone else) in that room with the only aim of scoring a little piece of paper with contact details on it (hell, I probably did it myself too, but I’ve blocked out all memories if I did). I’ve been elbowed, had my toes stepped on more than once, and all for that meaningless chat and little piece of paper. Do people get jobs that way? No doubt they do. Is it worth it? I don’t think so. Call me holier-than-thou (and regular readers will know that I feel strongly about stuff like this), but it’s just not right. I have a hard time putting my feelings into words other than ‘it’s just wrong’. It is. But if you need more evidence: you never know who will help you. We’ve all heard the stories about people who were rude to the receptionist, aced the interview but because they were rude to the receptionist didn’t ge the job. You never know who, when or where you will meet someone  who will give you your break. So best to be on your best behaviour at least most of the time. It’s the mum-rule: do as you mum told you when you were growing up: be nice.

So what do I recommend? Make connections. Have honest and open conversations, show interest in everyone and everything around you, think about what you can contribute to the person you’re talking to. Think of what interests and matters to them and how you can be of service. Think of everyone as people, not the obstacle you need to cross to where you want to go. Seek to add, not to take. Have something interesting to talk about and something interesting to ask (if you’re stumped: read widely (e.g. newspapers, Economist, trade rags)). Smile and be gracious. Don’t take up too much time. Follow up and say thank you if someone’s been helpful (but make it personal, don’t send out a formulaic email, that’s worse than not doing it). Keep promises. Listen, especially when someone is trying to tell you something. 

R1 results for LBS came out earlier this week. To everyone who got in: congrats and welcome! To the waitlistees: don’t lose hope. To those who got a ding: I’m sorry, it’s rough getting a ding.

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3 thoughts on “Where was I? Oh, yes, networking

  1. I could not agree more. Go out and make friends and join groups or associations that share your interests. The people who will help you the most in the future are people who share interests or people you’ve been able to help in the past.

  2. That’s right on. Networking is an overused word that should be eliminated from the dictionary. It feels like you are out looking for people you can use.

  3. I have always, ALWAYS wanted to write a post about the fallacy of networking. My blog (Marketing Ruined My Life) is pretty much poised for it.
    Props to you for saying it. Much respect and admiration for recognizing that you can’t keep stepping on people’s heads. The only way the human tower stands is if everyone holds together, instead of climbing atop each other.

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