An extremely popular restaurant in a city decides to make changes to its most frequently ordered entrée. The quaint and intimate ambiance includes 20 available tables. On any given weekend night, the restaurant is full to capacity with a wait of sometimes over an hour. The entrée’s price before the change was $35, and after the change the price was set to $50. The following weekend looked much different at the famed eatery. Instead of a wait list, only half the tables were engaged with patrons, and the remaining tables were unseated throughout the entire weekend. Even though the price of the entrée was higher, it resulted in a dead-weight loss with so many tables remaining available and tips uncaptured for the servers. The live band that graced the setting with melodious tunes was also less interested to perform in front of a limited audience.
Wealth is made through connections. Growth is accomplished through connections. Rich cultures are birthed through genuine connections. Simply put, behavioral economics is one of the leading intangibles that helps identify new cycles of progress. The restaurant owners in the opening paragraph may have thought they were going after consumer surplus, but they misgauged the behavioral dynamic.
Networking is almost viewed as a dirty word in some circles, causing uneasiness with many folks. However, not embracing this powerful resource could result in dead-weight losses in many of our current career roles. Think of it like unconsciously establishing a personal policy that causes you to miss out on unrealized potential. The great thing is that networking can be genuine, fun and extremely advantageous in the advancement of many opportunities that produce strong end-game results. It also helps us to keep the pulse of the human element of certain markets that cannot necessarily be captured by other means.
Networking is also very beneficial from a giving and receiving disposition. As the legendary Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” On each of our career or life paths, we are all exploring for that next stand-out hire, a new investor or that key contact who will open the door to other awesome contacts. Understanding the power of relationships with like-minded and diverse peers can help us expand our networks exponentially. Many times, the solution to many of our challenges is a person, and often that person lies within our network.
Networking greatly illuminates certain levels of attraction and compatibility that can’t necessarily be seen on paper, heard over the phone or observed online. I liken it to advice I often give recruiting colleagues: When you are in the process of landing amazing talent, first there has to be an attraction to you as an ambassador; then there has to be an attraction to your company’s culture and value proposition; and finally, there has to be compatibility regarding the direct manager they will report to.
Perhaps you’re someone who believes you’re not good at networking at all. Here are three oft-cited reasons people have for not networking that HR professionals and career coaches can debunk to help achieve richer networking opportunities for individuals and their organizations:
I’m an introvert: Introversion is typically understood as behavior that prioritizes solitude, experiences distraction from overstimulation, is very self-aware and is less likely to engage in small talk. However, much great thought has asserted that introverts are excellent networkers. Introverts tend to be more selective and much better at listening, which is a tremendous intangible in identifying quality connections. While extroverts may a way of creating an immediate wow factor, introverts are tremendous at forming meaningful relationships.
I’m not an expert in my field: Research by Harvard, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford found a century ago that 85% of career success comes from well-groomed soft skills. I recently attended a fun social event with some of my peers. Many of them were incredible coders, program managers and the like. Though it has been numerous years since my basic education in computer science, I found that my soft skills opened the door to awesome dialogue, along with the recognition that we had more in common than originally anticipated.
Everything is digital: It’s true that technology-related advancements have opened amazing new doors to connect online. It’s a brave new digital world that we’re now living and growing in. However, as aforementioned, there are outstanding advantages that come from jumping into the deep end during live events, like building confidence and receiving real-time advice from industry colleagues, experts and peers. The camaraderie that is established also opens the door for strong foundations for new friendships. Folks love to do business with people they like, respect and trust.
If you haven’t been networking regularly, practice adding one networking event to your calendar per quarter of the year. Joining a dedicated networking group also helps to raise your profile and builds positive traction within a closer circle of influencers. Soon you’ll be flying high and will begin to capture additional harvest from the seeds you plant over time.