Let’s do networking?!

Figen Kırca
Executive Coach, E&E Group
Networking is concept we hear quite often in recent years. Definition of networking is; building relations that bring mutual benefits and people to be in touch and interaction with each other to share information. Even though networking appeals to various fields it is mostly used for business. Therefore, it is regarded as activities that business people run for their jobs and careers.
I was introduced to networking through meetings when I was a student in 90s . Though I considered it strange we were advised to have our own business cards and should exchange them in networking meetings. Though networking is a part of our agenda now, I am not sure whether we understand this notion right. I am saying this based on my observations regarding outplacement consilees that I am working with, professionals that I get together with in different platforms and my inner circle.
For starters, there is a negative perception regarding networking in the first place, probably because we have a feeling of “wanting something from someone “ . Especially looking for job, we think “am I going to ask them to pull the wires?” instantly. Yet, we are talking about getting together with people, exchanging ideas, receiving their comment. We are networking in order to consult and find out about different points of views for whatever it is in our agenda. On top of that this isn’t only a one sided contact, it is an interaction. So we need to be thinking how we can contribute to the opponent.
I think, second reason this kind of meetings are regarded as difficult is because we couldn’t maintain the interaction. Not to be regarded as someone who only calls when they need somebody’s help, the interaction should be continuous. Answering inquiries, communicating whenever possible, not to miss the special days etc. But networking is not, intense contact with people until you find a job. Networking should be adopted as a way of doing business and philosophy of life. We should always remember the importance of our contacts and to give as much as we take.
In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says:
“To achieve your goals in life, I realized, it matters less how smart you are, how much innate talent you’re born with, or even, most eye-opening to me, where you came from and how much you started out with. Sure all these are important, but they mean little if you don’t understand one thing: You can’t get there alone. In fact, you can’t get very far at all.”
We are actually good in networking in two areas: looking for a house and a doctor. When you are in such need, you ask around and information flows to you. Why not run the process for our jobs and careers with the same perspective then?
Call it what you want, essence of the matter is to build strong relationships and make an effort to maintain them. You don’t do networking when you are in need all of a sudden.