The definition of networking I use is: Networking is a process by which you can create meaningful business contacts and relationships to further your career and enhance your professional life.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most difficult, networking is a 5. Building friendships is a 10.
I know that many of you have become better and better at this “networking thing.” The constant “nagging” I do in our evening editorial I hope has had a significant impact on your daily activities. And, I hope you are enjoying the rewards as well. But, being one who NEVER leaves well enough alone, I thought I would share one of the deep dark secrets of effective networking – some of these folks become fast friends.
Just as much as no one really understands why you fall in love, it is a mystery in much the same way why after networking with someone over the years you suddenly realize that you have become good friends.
The way we practice networking in The FENG is for you as the favor requestor to feel comfortable asking any other member of our august body for any reasonable favor. On the other side of the equation, I would ask that any member who is asked for a favor they can reasonably grant, to grant it. What is unusual about our mutual requesting and granting of favors is that there need be no match. You can ask favors of anyone and you are expected to grant favors to everyone. (As long as they ask nicely.) The twist in The FENG is that the person to whom you grant a favor doesn’t have to pay you back. He does, however, have to pay SOMEONE back.
By making every effort to network appropriately, by which I mean with those with whom you have some background connection, you are bit by bit going to meet up with like minded individuals. It is inevitable. Some of those folks will just “click” with you.
Now comes the hard part. (I know it sounded too easy to this point.) When you “click” with someone, you have to make an effort to perform acts of friendship. Networking to many seems to have some evil intent. Were it not for your need to earn a living, I suppose you would just stay in your shell and never talk to anyone. But, once you get into this friendship building stuff, it is hard to stop.
Let’s say you saw an article that you think would be of interest to your new friend. Send it along. They may already have seen it, in which case they might write back and let you know. Now that you know you have both read it, why not call up and chat about it?
Gestures large and small make up a friendship. Some of my friendships go back to the beginning of my career. Others are very new. Some are from my involvement in The FENG. All of them are cherished relationships that only get better over time.
The “care and feeding of friends” can be exhausting at times, but it is always worth the effort long term.
As much as I wish all of you a rewarding career, I even more so wish for you to enjoy the personally satisfying experience of having more friends than you can name in a single breath or even in an afternoon.
Among the many goals in your life, I hope this is one you will sign up for.