It is in some ways a shame that the idea of networking has gotten itself so tightly connected to job search.
One of the reasons that I call members who have found new jobs is to remind them to continue networking. Sad to say that many people allow themselves to get so absorbed in their new jobs that they get disconnected from their network.
I often refer to The FENG as a circle of friends. I also refer to those with whom you have the most in common and with whom you should stay in contact as your “inner circle of friends.”
However, to describe it as “your very own insurance policy” puts it in the context of job search, which may give it “a rational explanation,” but from my own perspective understates and misrepresents why most people do it.
I even find myself at a loss for words at times when asked why I do what I do. Why would anyone in their right mind spend valuable time on networking when they have work to do for their employer or when they could just plain “goof off?” Well, that is a very good question.
A college professor of mine was once heard to say, “That’s all very well in practice, but how does it work in theory?” I have in my personal experience base a valid sample of folks I know who network endlessly and yet the reasons they typically provide as to why they do it really don’t wash.
Let me pose some explanations that I hope you will find work for you. And, ones I hope that will turn you into as hopeless a networking maniac as I am and will always be.
The need to network may have some link to potentially finding another job some day, but the real reason people do it is that it creates warm feelings. Okay, now the secret is out.
Take a simple example. You have worked mightily to create your very own inner circle of friends, many of whom are just like you in some respect. In the classic changing of jobs, you have moved from a large company to a smaller one. Guess what? You now have no one just like you to talk to about problems. What a relief and pleasure it can be to open your rolodex and find that special someone from your inner circle to call. Sure the immediate problem can be explained and discussed, but you will also have the opportunity to catch up. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Now let’s assume you are called by a “stranger” (a member of The FENG who has not talked to you before) and you take their call. What if you can actually help? Perhaps you can offer some advice, a few words of support or maybe an introduction to someone in your inner circle.
Friends, if you don’t get a warm feeling coming over you, I don’t know what will “float your boat.” (I had to get in one sailing analogy, didn’t I?)
See, this is the real reason people network. There is no evil. There is no “insurance policy” here. It is just the fulfillment of what you should have realized all along.
Life is about making new friends, helping old friends and feeling needed. Are any other explanations required?