Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, co-author of WORK THE POND!
Making time for networking — I had thought of calling this article, “Finding the Time for Networking” but the truth is that finding the time is not really the biggest hurdle. Instead, it’s making the time. What’s the difference? Making the time implies that it is worthwhile to network—there’s a good reason for it. If you believe that there is value in networking you’ll find the time.
Here’s a true story of a “Doubting Thomas”. His attitude is very typical. While we were teaching a seminar on Positive Networking® to a group of Executive MBAs, one guy–appropriately named Thomas—spoke up. He wanted to share his feelings about networking: “It’s standing around making small talk and thinking how much more productive I could be if I were back at my office.”
This is not an unusual view. And our response was this: “Thomas what if you set a goal of attending just one networking event a week? That’s forty-seven events a year—with five weeks off for good behavior. And try and make seven good contacts per event. Now do the arithmetic. At the end of the year you’ll have 329 new contacts—1,645 at the end of five years. Could you make this happen if you were sitting at your desk? I don’t think so.”
Actually, it isn’t 1,645 contacts at the end of five years, it is 1,645 new networks—you are one handshake away from everyone in each of those networks. The mind boggles…networks are amazing.
Are all those connections going to flourish into relationships? Not likely, but if you succeed with a very small percentage of those contacts, say 10 percent, that’s still 164 new relationships. Could these relationships add value to your life? You bet! They could help you with information you may be looking for, perhaps find you a new employee, or maybe even be that person who offers you a new job or refers you for a job. Any, and all, of those people may simply add value to your life, even if they seem like weak links now. They may become friends or interesting acquaintances.
But more importantly, the question you want to ask is what can you do for these new people in your network? That’s where the happiness factor comes in. Research shows that people who are more connected, who are givers not takers, are healthier and happier, live longer and have more rewarding lives. Those are reasons to make networking and connecting in work and life a priority. If you do, you’ll find the time.
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