Networking Reboot

So, I’m on an early-morning flight last week, headed to see a client for the day, and I open the February 2016 “Get Happy” issue of Southwest Airlines’ The Magazine to page 50.  There, I encounter an article, “Happy Trails,” by Mike Darling with artwork from Giordano Poloni/Colagene.  It was a nicely illustrated infographic-style piece with, “A step-by-step guide to feeling better today, starting the moment you wake up.”  The intent, of course, was to help the reader refocus his/her energy to lead a healthier, happier life.

Some of its useful tips included drink water, plan a trip, “smile like you mean it,” give to others and exercise.  All very good ideas.  But then I came to this one:  “Stop Networking.”

What?  Stop Networking?  A few heart palpitations and gasps for breath later, I dabbed the sweat from my brow, regrouped and read on.  Here’s what the author had to say:

Stop Networking.  Instead, build actual relationships:  ‘There’s this view out there that to get ahead, you have to focus on yourself – to look out for No. 1 – but research has actually demonstrated that people who are more generous and have good relationships with others end up being more successful,’ says The Happiness Track’s [author, Emma] Seppälä. ‘And our greatest source of happiness comes from our relationships.’”

Well, PHEW! and amen to that!

I’m not sure where along the way “networking” became such a dirty word.  It’s now my personal mission to reframe the definition of networking along the lines of the Coffee Lunch Coffee Networking Platform to mean, “creating or building personal relationships without a predetermined outcome in mind.”  Will you join me in spreading the word (pun intended!)?

Remember:  Networking is not about “What have you done for me lately?”  Rather, it’s about, “What can I do to help you?”  There should be no expectation of payback or remuneration of any kind when people come together in networking interactions.  This is no quid pro quo sort of arrangement; rather, as I have shared time and time again, the more one puts in to the building better, more meaningful connections, the so much more he/she gets in return.

So please, whatever you do, DO NOT stop networking.  But, DO continue to establish and nurture meaningful, authentic, long-term, mutually beneficial relationships wherever you go.

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