From Fortune Magazine: How to Network and Enjoy It

Anne Fisher writes the workplace page for Fortune Magazine. Career and workplace dilemmas and reader questions are her specialty. Quite often it's about looking for a job (on the same page as the networking article, a reader asks the best way to send a resume and I have to admit that Anne's advice is right on).

Anyway, this article from the April 4th edition, was pretty interesting. And it has applications for not only job seekers and people managing their career, but also for me in my job because now networking is a big percentage of what I do. The whole concept of networking may be a little uncomfortable for some people, perhaps in its extreme, because folks don't want to turn into one of *those* know, the super slick, schmoozy people. Or the LinkedIn connection collectors. There's just so much opportunity to do networking poorly. But when you do it well, people hardly know it’s happening. They’re just glad to know you.

Right now, my approach, because I refuse to become one of *them*, is to really think about the people I come into contact with and how we can help each other. If we can't, that's fine...I file the name away for another day and still offer whatever assistance I can. It obviously works both ways. I have to say that it has been so much fun talking to people that I wouldn't have known (mostly because I didn't have the time) in my previous roles.

The short article talks about introvert versus extroverts and makes the point that introverts can network and it becomes easier with practice. You may find this hard to believe, but I consider myself an introvert and have really been working on changing that (it doesn't change in my personal time though). Keith Ferrazzi makes the statement, "Generosity is the key to success."



Comments (13)

  1. Adam says:

    I find that networking kind of happens automatically.

    I mostly hang out with friends from my work, and when we go do something, sometimes they’ll bring one of their college friends along (since most of us are fresh out of school), and wah-lah… you’re making new friends, and networking at the same time.

  2. Being human for the most part is a series of connections with others that either becomes short or long connections. The stress of business networking is to keep these connections long so that the connection becomes worth more and leads to other short and long connections.

    A perfect example of a non business view of this is when most of us went to college and we were constantly meeting people. We met people on our own, through friends in classes or outside class and from the faculty and administration of the school. Most of the people we meet do not amount more than a simple acknowledgement if you meet again but sometimes people click and keep strengthening the connection they have.

    I guess what I am saying is that most business people make too much of "networking" and become the slick what can you do for me types. But for the people that value their connections and try to have value that goes both ways in the connection, the experiences can be great and fulfilling.

    Also I enjoy networking for people that can do nothing for me and that I can do a lot for them. This type of networking is called charity and volunteering and is the greatest of all and should be done all the time.

  3. Mark Mullin says:

    Hi Heather

    I know whatcha mean by the linked in connection collectors but I’d offer three caveats

    1) One friend, who was the on site recruiter for Taligent has pretty much recreated all of the Taligent network that’s any good and still in the software biz (some of the best decided to become carpenters/Drs/etc after the big T) She’s a big hub on LI

    2) Another friend is certainly a collecter with 170 links. OTOH, I don’t think msft would sneer at him since his product put 1/3 or 1/5 of the gross to the bottom line of the entertainment bu in 99 (yeah, it wuz a littler bu then)

    3) I let linked in scan my outlook book after it turned out there were so many people I knew on it – and it found a bunch more, including many of my gold card entries.

    Anyway, my 2c on linked in are that my first response to an invite from a friend was pretty much one of ‘yeah, right – oh, ok I don’t want to dis you’ – now that I’ve seen what people I _know_ are on it, I now find it pretty spooky.

    The virtual LI network is pretty much as closed as the real network, i.e. I’ve gotten back in touch with people I haven’t spoken with for several years, but there aren’t a lot of new links being made. One or two, but not many. I guess I’d give it high marks for cred, but not so much for utility. I did connect together two recruiters I know on each coast, but that probably isn’t what you want to hear 🙂

  4. Phil Weber says:

    Hi, Heather: A decade ago, I began to feel like I was succumbing to social anxiety disorder. Then I discovered this book: , and today I’m as charming and witty as Chris on "The Apprentice." (I’m just saying! 😉

  5. KingsleyTagbo says:

    For me, networking is blogging at”> and maintaining an active community profile at http://www.kdkeys/net/forums.

    I have met professionals from different worlds very easily through the net and found it very satisfying.

    The next big thing is ‘E-Networking’ I predict 🙂

    Kingsley Tagbo

    Knowledge Discovery Keys

  6. Gautam says:

    You ought to read this article called "The Strength of Weak Ties"

    Gives a new perspective on networking !

  7. KingsleyTagbo says:

    Networking via blogs and community sites is way cool.

    I generally meet different people through community sites, exchange information, ideas, etc. without so much protocol. Online personas are generally masked/filtered by the NET, which I have found enables one to focus on whatever agenda is really important at that time. It is lazy and focused. You don’t have to drive to a meeting point, or schedule a meeting and attend it, all you have to do is to focus on making your point, and whenever whoever is interested is online, they can instantly pickup your thoughts as if you are still their.

    Sometimes, people get irate, but then who cares, you can’t see the person and if you don’t like the tone of the discussion you can drift on. It also allows people to read a series of your posts / blogs and decide if they really like you. It is a good marketing tool, because you are selling yourself al the time and networking with whoever Google brings your way and by the time a prospective client sends you an email, they are probably qualified. What do you think?

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Mark-it’s not about sneering at anyone. I’m just trying to stay true to the concept of "trusted connections" and I cna’t trust people I don’t know. And I’m not likely to allow any third party tool to scan my anything. If I know someone, I know them (I’m pretty good at keeping track of folks…I think it comes with practice).

    Anyway, invites from friends or business acquaintances are different than invites from people I don’t know. I’m still getting several of those a week and although I think it would be the right thing to do, to contact each back and explain how I feel about connecting, I have not been able to keep up with it. I think a lot of people feel like they *know* me from my blog (which is great), but without there being an actual business relationship (2 way communication, some kind of trust criteria assessment) there, I still can’t feel comfortable connecting officially via a tool. Of cuorse, I am open to getting to know people throigh my blog and I am ALWAYS open to people contacting me…I’m just not going to document "relationships" via a tool like linked In until they have actually become relationships. I hope that makes sense.

    There are certainly some challenges with these tools given how people are using them differently. I’m not inclined to consider them valuable knwoing how promiscuous some people are with their linking behavior ; ) There’s just limited value there for me. So I just use it as a names database.

  9. Dapo Shobowale says:

    It is impossible to move to the next level of your career without the neccessary marketing skills. i just concluded an Executive MBA program and simply found out that being in the same class with the cream of the Corporate World does no guarantee relationship.

    Networking skills like any other must be learnt and consciusly nurtured. Imagine yourself on a raft floating on water in the middle of nowhere – Networking is that raft that will get your onshore and ensure you do not end your life being just anothere employment statistic in the back office ‘somewhere’

  10. Networking via blogs and community sites is way cool.

    I generally meet different people through community…

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