Networking Is Not A Dirty Word (Part I)

I often talk with students who seem to think that “networking” is a dirty word, that the whole concept suggests that who you know is more important than what you can do, that it smacks of privilege and is implicitly manipulative.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever looked for an apartment or a roommate? A great place to eat? Did personal recommendations play a role at all? (I’m guessing yes.) Did you ever do a favor for a friend, or offer some advice? Did you feel used or manipulated as a result? (I’m hoping no.)

A network is nothing more than a web of relationships with people who have positive feelings about you and/or the work that you do, and who may ask for or offer advice, opportunities or recommendations from time to time.

Talent and hard work are essential. But if a tree (or a person) accomplishes something fabulous in the forest (or anywhere else), but no one hears about it, did it really have an impact?  You need ears in the forest. (And occasionally, you’ll need to remind them of what they heard, and even encourage them to share the story with others.)

At its best, your network is an ever-expanding collection of people who want to see you do well, who know (or can guess) what you’re capable of, for whom you do nice things once in a while, and who may be inclined to do nice things for you. That’s all.

Convinced? Then watch this space for tips on building and navigating your network, in Networking is Not a Dirty Word (Part II)…