One Dimensional Networking.

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I had a networking meeting at Starbucks the other day with a smart person. She is in professional services and is probably very successful. She lives in a nice beach community and drives a nice car.

She didn’t seem very comfortable, but days can be like that: Life affects our daily attitudes and outlook.

I asked her where she went to network and she looked at me and said that she didn’t do much networking because her business was doing well. She basically told me that she only networks when she needs more business.

The moments after turned into an awkward silence; I wondered why I was there.

She and I obviously didn’t network for all the same reasons. As a self employed Consultant I am hunting all the time and realize that my network also provides other currencies. Just today somebody asked me if my blog monetizes me. I am not really empirically sure, but it certainly has broadened my community. If I was rich but isolated, would I be wealthy?

For years I have met people who only get out there and network when they need more business, or a job. Once they reach that objective they stop. If they fall off that plateau, how far is the drop if they’ve stopped networking? Earning your network back can be a tedious endeavor.

Do you only network for money or do you network for an enriched life? For me networking  has both benefits. I live a rich life in a village of three million in Orange County, but my definition of rich may be vastly different than the ones held by the Housewives of Orange County.

Some people only network for money. I believe that you network for life. There are networking places that I go to where I don’t expect anything in return financially. I call those events “networking for community”. This basically consists of talking to people around me. Does it lead to financial currency? Hard to tell. Does it lead to social currency? For sure.

My local watering hole is about two miles away on PCH, it is called Salt Creek Grill. All my changes took place there. You can smell the ocean when you enter the door because the ocean is just behind you. I landed my first project there for Blank and Associates when I started my company. It didn’t come from a pitch. It came from talking to somebody when I was by myself drinking a glass of wine. I was alone but I wasn’t isolated because I engaged with somebody around me.

In the end, does one dimensional networking lead to a one dimensional life? It would for me but then again measures of success are all different unless you are willing and looking to make a difference.

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11 thoughts on “One Dimensional Networking.

  1. All very excellent observations. I would also point out to the smart person you met at Starbucks – If you’re only networking when you need the business, they’ll smell the desperation on you!

  2. Thanks, Hank – good post. One of my favorite parts of networking is just helping other people with something they need. Just today I helped a business associate make a connection at an Amazon distribution center for some business reasons. I think it will be positive for both of them. Nothing’s “in it” for me – just the pleasure of being able to facilitate the connection. Pretty cool!

  3. Bob Newkirk

    Hank, I enjoy reading your observations; especially since they resonate with my own experience. I have met some tremendous people networking and gratefully made several new friends along the way! And I am not sure how much has converted to dollars, but that’s not what I’m counting.

    Nonetheless, being on the employed side of the fence once again I must admit it does get much more difficult from a time perspective working for corporations who have seemed to lost the 8:00a-5:00p boundary of the past.

    Often I am required to be on calls or at meetings at 7:00a or that last past 6:00p, in addition to out of town on business travel for meetings and tradeshow events, and sometimes end up working all night or on weekends to meet poorly set delivery dates from Management. And now companies are rolling back vacations from 3-5 weeks for Directors/VP’s/Execs to 10 days that are earn-in over time served—what a joke compared to Europeans whom often start with 4-weeks minimum.

    Occasionally I push back, but often I am told there are a dozen others waiting to fill my role. It’s funny, growing up I remember people saying Japanese skipped vacations, worked nights and weekends, etc. It seems we have adopted that “Japanese” work culture here in the U.S. since globalization. Personally, I am seeking work-life balance and targeted time to network and the current business atmosphere is making it much more challenging than in the past.

    • Hank Blank

      Thanks Bob. Yes there are great pressures and indifference by companies. As soon as they give you a Smart Phone you are on their leash. Take care. Hank

  4. Hank,

    You are more of what I’ve learned is called a ‘netweaver’, You look for opportunities to build community and help others. You are definitely someone I want in my network. Awesome advice!

  5. Hank Blank

    I had a great day. Have some people I can connect you with. Thanks for stopping by and meeting with me. Learned a lot. Take care. Hank

  6. It took leaving my last role for me to realize how poorly I’d done in maintaining my network and doing my own personal marketing. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day business but I’m promising myself to not let it happen again. I don’t want to be one of those people who are only in it for themselves.

  7. Hank, a guy in my office got his biggest and most consistent running account earlier this year from a networking connection in a bar. He had a meeting with one person, that did not turn into business, but someone next to him overheard part of the conversation, pass along his card as lawyer for the future client, and connected my coworker to his future client.

    Most people fail to network at all, as you have pointed out in the past, and even more fail to make it more than just about money as you note.

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