It’s Time to Stop Networking.

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I have been networking for many many years.  I also speak on networking to companies and organizations across the country.

I love networking and meeting new people.  It is the start of a journey.  It is my elixir. I love discovery and new things.  It is an adventure like travelling.

Because my network is so broad and diverse I can easily connect the dots and often connect anybody to a number of people based on their past experience, background and other touch points that we discover during out meeting.

That is why I called my first networking CD “Connecting the Dots”.

However because I have so many contacts and meet so many people speaking I really don’t need to meet more people.  I need to harvest my network and I think that it is that way for many people who have been networking for a long time.

I have almost 10,000 contacts in my iPhone.

Last week, I met somebody who is rather new at the networking game.  They asked me what is the most important strategy in networking.  Having a smaller more intimate network or a broad network?  Basically the breadth or depth question. They asked me was it a numbers game or get to know people better strategy.

I think that is both as I believe that there are three stages in networking and it relates to the stages of your networking life cycle.

The first stage of networking is planting the seeds or establishing and expanding your network.  If you are recently in transition, relocated or never networked you need to plant the seeds and meet lots of people. It is a numbers game to a degree as all networkers aren’t created equal.  Some are takers.  Some are learning how to network and don’t really know how to connect the dots and some are connectors like me.  I have written on this before in a post called the ABC of Networking.

The next step is pruning your network.  You have to discover who are the people in your network who are the connectors, the people introducing you to other people. The people giving you added value, teaching you new things and changing your life and bringing you new road maps. Basically the people that help you change your life in some small way.

Then you have to harvest.  In my networking presentation I have a section where I talk about working an event, following up, and staying in touch.

Great ideas come from deep reflection.  Great relationships come from constant contact and that is not an e mail program.

I basically say that if you aren’t going to follow up on attending an event and contacting the people on all those cards you have collected don’t go and throw the cards away.  It is a waste of time.  We all have a tendency with today’s technology that hyperactives us and make us move on too quickly not to follow up from something from just yesterday.  It is a mistake and I am also often guilty of it.

Time for less elixir and more harvesting.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch some videos on http://www.youtube.com/user/MrHankblank

Here is one on How to Rise Above the Crowd.  Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkO7efleWX4&list=UUEigDTyDiFGXVfyg7sRErOg&index=1&feature=plcp

 

 

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17 thoughts on “It’s Time to Stop Networking.

  1. Hank,

    I agree – it’s important to deepen and get to know a subset of your network. Reach out, have coffee, send a personal ‘how are you?.’

    In regards to networking during transition – yes, it’s a numbers game, but be selective – find the handful of people you connect with and ‘make it real.’ It isn’t a race. It’s relationships.

    Thanks for teaching me and so many others.

  2. Dear Hank,

    With the ease we have in meeting people who share our interests, goals, and loves–networking is a lifelong activity. Networking is not a contest. The winner is not the person with the widest or deepest network. Networking is to help those in your network more than you help yourself. If you produce more value to those in your network than you expect to receive–what you will receive will be more than you imagine. Giving is the essence of good networking. Paradoxically, the more you are in networking to help yourself, the less you receive. The more you are networking to help those you choose to network with, the more you will receive in turn. Giving is the key to great networking–it always was the key.
    The most successful networking creates enduring, loving relationships between you and several people in your network. Relationships that transcend the empheral benefits from networking, relationships that blossom into good work that helps make the world a happy peaceful place for all living creatures.

    Good work Hank,

    Philip Henderson, Ethical Magician, Oxen Teamster, and Inspirational Listener

  3. My current project is to (net)work my way through my LinkedIn and Facebook connections. Locals are easy to meet face to face for coffee, lunch, after-hours, etc. Distant contacts get a phone call or a personal note.

    It’s amazing how these “faces” come to life when you connect a little deeper than just hitting the “accept” button.

  4. Hi Hank,

    What you’ve pointed out is absolutely true if your goal is to network and build relationships. How can you effectively connect the dots if you don’t have an understanding of peoples’ goals?

    Having an anonymous list of contacts doesn’t help you achieve complicated relationship-based goals. There’s no confidence that you might be able to engage the right people for the right opportunity because you just don’t know them.

    Like you, I always see the potential in people, so I have a difficult time pruning. And, people’s lives change all the time, so their significance to a specific achievement might change substantially… but only if you know them. I like to keep those distant connections for the day when the purpose is revealed. (Happens to me all the time). I must have been inspired by ‘possibility’ when Humphrey Bogart said, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

    The truth is, from the immediacy of an encounter with someone, online or in person, you can’t predict the nature of what that relationship might ultimately be, or how meaningful it will be to you or another person.

    I have seen emerge a top list of people (I don’t really know that well) who serve as my benchmark for thought leaders.

    I guess I should start to invite them for coffee. With my online network, we will have to set up skype, because people I have connected with, and admire, are not all local. Not all people that I have connected with will result in business either. Much of my networking has helped me to develop a more thoughtful, experienced, and reliable suite of peers.

    Having an outrageous volume of connections isn’t without merit. If you are looking to sell something that ‘everyone can use’ or promote a charity drive, or correct false PR, or build brand recognition in your target online channel, there are definite uses for a broad nameless, faceless network. Maybe the purpose of the network just isn’t that deep.

    Certainly someone I barely know might forward a relevant job opportunity to me. And plenty of people whom I know really well have sent me job opportunities that were completely off base! (But I appreciate them thinking of me).

    Thanks for sharing,

    Wendy

  5. Diane Rowold

    Thanks Hank,

    In the last few weeks I have made a concerted effort connect to people face to face at various events. It really makes a difference. It just goes to show you that even in this time of high tech remote communication, there really is no substitution for direct eye contact, a friendly smile and a warm handshake.

  6. Good article Hank. It always down to knowing your end game doesn’t it? I can’t think of anything I do in business that is not based around my end game. It’s best practices at its core and networking is right in there. I think the worst thing you can do is waste someone’s time or have your time wasted. It’s not always easy to know when that’s happening. The best you can do is make some real connections that offer you and them depth and growth… good networking lives somewhere in between.

    Always love reading your posts!

    Stephanie

  7. I am guilty too of collecting business cards and not getting back to people prompty, honestly that part of transfering all the bussiness cards to email address book is the most time consuming part. KInda why I was crazy enough to create a system to ease the way people connect.

    I agree it is both, you really need to know people of so many expertises so that when you haven’t a clue, you have someone who can help you. I need to get better about using my network and creating the give and take part as I am building myself in my MBA program I feel useless and always as if I am asking for help or a mentor. I am still trying to find my expertise and create a skill I am willing to give back. This was helpful, your words always seem to guide me more towards a professional me.

    Thank you for the encouragement and guidance Hank!

    Rusty

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