I most definitely fall into the camp of folks who have an intense
dislike of networking. Count me squarely among those who has always
thought it's "phony, self-serving, fake, inauthentic, superficial,
conniving, manipulative, and useless."
I had a time and project management training session on Tuesday in
which the facilitator placed networking and relationship building
into box II of the urgent/important grid, thus designating
networking important and not urgent-one of those things that I
should really spend my time on if I want to make the most of my
time and my life.
The facilitator advised us to think about where we want to be in
five years and identify the people we need to know to get there.
Because knowing the right people is how to get there.
Ugh. OK. Fine. I will try to spend more time on networking-even
though it feels like pulling teeth. Without Novocain. On a
high-wire. OK, so not that last one.
Then I remembered, hey, didn't ASTD Press co-publish a book by
Devora Zack with Berrett-Koehler called
Networking for People Who Hate Networking? Maybe I should
check it out
And then I came across
this blog post by Meghan Casserly at Forbes.com about the book.
Hm, convergence. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something?
So, I got a copy of the book and started reading, and I am already
hooked and convinced that there may be something to this thing you
call networking. After conveying the common viewpoint that
networking is "phony, self-serving," and so forth (see above), Zack
explains why it's worth your time to bother with it. She answers
the question, "What is at stake?" with "Only whatever you want to
accomplish in your life. No biggie."
Sheesh, all right, all right, already. Just tell me what to do, and
how to do it.
And Zack does. Explaining that the standard rules of networking
don't work for everyone, she provides a new set of guidelines for
introverts, the overwhelmed, and the underconnected-guidelines that
play to introvert strengths.
I haven't finished the book yet, but I already love it. For one
thing, if you are an introvert you may have internalized some of
the common perceptions of the introverted-shy, quiet, anti-social,
awkward, sedentary, uninteresting, slow, dull-which don't exactly
make you feel too good about yourself. She makes you feel a whole
lot better by explaining the strengths of introverts and how you
can play them up to have fun networking (wow, what a concept) and
get ahead. (And she doesn't do it at the expense of extroverts, who
have their own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, this book is not
just for introverts; it has plenty of good information for
extroverts as well.)
Another benefit of the book is that she provides practical tips for
different situations. One example is the platinum rule, which
states, "Treat others how they want to be treated," and is
a whole lot more effective than adopting a one-size-fits-all
approach to communicating with people. Other examples are effective
ways to manage the job search, benefit from business travel, and
plan your own networking events.
Finally, there is her tone. Reading the book is a blast. Her
writing style is fun, funny, and insightful, enabling you to
recognize your own quirks and foibles with a laugh and allowing you
to own your strengths.
OK, now I want to get back to reading the book and planning my
approach to world domination through networking. Oh, I meant my
approach to achieving success.
The book is
Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for
Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected by
Devora Zack (Berrett-Koehler and ASTD Press, 2010).