Professional Networking – What Does Networking Mean To You?

I finished part 2 of 3 internal lunch-and-learn sessions on professional networking for my colleagues at LUCRUM yesterday.  Someone later on asked me if it was podcast.  Unfortunately, no.  I really gotta remember to capture opportunities like that.  I’m sure with time I’ll develop better habits.  I’m not yet the guy with camera and the recorder always going.  Although, that brings me to a post I’ll get out here once I have it thought through.  The title?  Probably A Word Paints A Thousand Pictures, as I’m a somewhat voracious reader and I’ve been dismayed at the death of imagination that the proliferation of images and video on the ‘net has caused.

So today I’m getting back to some posts on the topic of Professional Networking.  We left off with some of the aspects of networking that people loathe.  Next let’s talk about what networking is.  In Make Your Contacts Count, Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon define networking.

“Networking is the deliberate process of exchanging information, resources, support, and access in such a way as to create mutually beneficial relationships for personal and professional success.”

The active words here are:

  • Deliberate
  • Mutual
  • Beneficial
  • Relationship
  • Personal
  • Professional
  • Success

Some time ago Suzette West asked the question on LinkedIn, “What does networking mean to you?

What I would like to know is how others feel about networking, whether you are new to it, or you are a veteran. If you are a newbie, what have you learned about networking from using LinkedIn? If you are a veteran, what kind of sage advice can you offer to newbies that will help them cultivate strong relationships within their networks; whether they are on LinkedIn or in person?

There is a book called, “Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success” by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon. I found a lot of helpful information and suggestions to make the most of networking whether on or offline. In their book, they talk about building relationships through six stages, and how we can cultivate relationships so that they grow and develop through the six stages by demonstrating character and competence.

With that said, I have met a lot of great people since I started networking both in person, and online. I have learned to embrace and cherish people who are honest and welcoming, and I have learned to accept people who are more reserved and to themselves. The point is that there is a place here for all of us, and our opportunities to learn and grow from each other are only as limited as we make them.

Suzette, for some reason, marked my response as the best response to her question.  I was both jazzed and honored.  Here is my response:

For me, networking is local. Although I have global and regional reach through LinkedIn and social networking sites, my most valuable contacts are local. Local, that is, through my sphere of influence. Folks I reach out to gain some level of immediate trust due to my proximity to them, whether geographical or relational. Then, it’s up to me to take the first step and add value.

Because most of my most valuable networking relationships are also geographically local, part of my next step is a face-to-face meeting. Connecting with the best-of-the-best becomes very difficult without a face-to-face meeting. Of course this takes time, effort, and generally some small amount of money for coffee or lunch. And when we meet I’m looking for ways I can offer them value. If my colleague understands networking, I’ll quickly receive value from them. If not, then I’ll follow up our conversation with email or a phone call when I have the ability to offer more value. Eventually my colleague will catch on and begin offering value to others as part of the cycle.

So my philosophy towards networking is, “What can I give?” I view my role as building community and bringing others together. I subscribe to the notion of what goes around comes around, and I’ve been amazed more than once at what has come around to me when I’ve least expected it. I suppose another way to look at this is, those who are the luckiest work the hardest.

That’s what networking means to me.

What do you think?  What does networking mean to you?



~ by Andy on June 19, 2008.

7 Responses to “Professional Networking – What Does Networking Mean To You?”

  1. Andy,

    I look at networking like this: “What can I do to help someone else get what they want?”

    I don’t keep score. I don’t lend a hand expecting the same help in return from that same person.

    Rather, I believe that by helping others, I’ll receive help down the road from someone else (maybe that person, maybe not).

    I’m throwing good vibes out into the universe… and the good that goes around will come around.


  2. On a larger scale, the ability to solve problems is directly correlated to networking. When a problem arises, knowing people helps to solve the problem quickly. This is amplified when the problem you solve is not your own, but belongs to someone you know in need of help. Connecting those with problems to those with solutions is creates value for both. In doing so, you help yourself by building good will and a reputation as someone who can solve problems. This plays itself out as the favor is returned, and eventually a community is created. Everyone is stronger as a result of knowing one another. Do good things = good things happen to you and others.

  3. Oh yeah,

    Great presentation yesterday!

  4. […] Point? ? cincinnati I?? professional networking – Facing The Room ? cincinnati IT – an andy e ……Business agenda Cincinnati Enquirer Cincinnati.ComYour local business notebook, featuring local […]

  5. I love your viewpoint and I am in total agreement of a number of the points. My experience has taught me that :

    A Networking brings good Karma

  6. Thanks you so much to whom it may concern.

  7. Thanks for for some great information.
    Much success.

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