The art of networking, pic:

Networking is a central part of American business life and one that Europeans often underestimate – at their own peril.   I hold to my opinion that among all the great things I learned in a US Business School networking and small talking were the most important.  And I really am not downplaying the importance of macroeconomics or cost accounting here.

Networking is more than sashaying around at a cocktail party Martini in hand.  Networking is actively building a group of professionals you have done business with or could do one day do business with.  It means to keep in loose touch with those individuals and be of help and assistance to them when asked.

And here is the critical idea: “ask for and provide assistance”.  If I need an introduction to Seth, the  marketing person in company X, and I know Jenny in company Y who knows that person I got and say “could you send Seth an email and introduce me?” and chances are Jenny will say “sure, no problem.”  Nobody feels taken advantage of and all is fine as long as some basic rule is followed:

  • you taketh and you giveth – Jenny helps me so next time Alicia asks me for the name of the hiring manager so her son can send the application for a summer internship to the right person I’ll say “Sure, I’ll do it tonight.”  (unless the son is a complete doofus in which case I better think quickly and come up with a good reason why I can’t).

Everybody thinks this is the most efficient way of getting stuff done – and you know what: it is.  networking doesn’t mean to condone nepotism it builds on the old idea of the network of trust.  I trust you, you trust Eric over there so I implicitly trust Eric.

Works!  Not always but more often than not.

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