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A well-known radio personality was speaking with a rainmaker I know. At the end of the conversation the radio person made an interesting comment: “You actually connected with me.” For him that was an unusual experience.
What was unique about the encounter was that many people come up to the radio man to introduce themselves. Most of these introductions are either “fan-based” or people want to connect to a center of influence (did I mention this radio person knows everyone). The motivation for these connections is typically self-serving: knowing the radio guy satisfied a need or offered the potential for usefulness.
Libby Purves wrote an article for The London Times titled “The Unseemly Art of Networking.” The primary premise of the article is that the “overhyped practice of networking” is based on cultivating a friendship with someone specifically because he could be useful to you. The outcome is the approached person, the moment they suspect that comradely affection is dependent on how useful they are, shrinks away.
An owner of an IT firm attended an event for networking. As at most such events everyone gets a minute for a self-introduction. As soon as my friend announced he owned a company he said he instantly felt like “the piece of meat in the pool of piranha.” And he was right; when the introductions ended no less than five people descended him upon.
Three perspectives on networking -- the uniqueness of my friend’s encounter with the radio man, the premise of Ms. Purves’ article, and the IT owner’s experience. What they illustrate is how networking has evolved.
Today networking is too frequently the practice of meeting with people in order to expand potential for your opportunities. There is no fault in focusing on your business and how to grow it. Most new business in a B2B environment comes through people and referrals.