The Network Effect – Harnessing the Power of Your Network
As usual at a Focus event, I met some very interesting people from many different countries including: Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands and The U.S.A. It was an engaging topic and everyone got involved in the discussion.
Until today, I thought of networking as a fairly unpleasant task of making awkward small talk with strangers and collecting business cards. I learned from Judith that simply changing the word ‘networking’ to ‘connecting’ reframes it into a much more appealing activity. Looking at it from the viewpoint of a connector, we can go to events, meet lots of people who have their own unique perspectives and raisons d’être*, learn about what interests them and what their current challenges are. Then, when we meet another person who has a similar interest, or maybe even a solution to an issue, we can connect those people and possibly help both of them. Networking just became fun! It’s no longer about me and it’s all about getting to know other people. Along the way, if we openly share our interests with people, then someone somewhere might be introduced to us.
You have probably heard that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. We all recognise that the people in our inner circle, the ones we spend most of our time with, share many of the same ideas we do. If we want to learn and grow, we need to talk to different people and learn about new ideas and opportunities. The people on the periphery are people we already know: extended family, ex-colleagues or the local shopkeeper. They are people that you have made a connection with in the past, people you like and still have contact with (thank you social media). These people have other connections in different areas and access to different ideas and opportunities. This is the power of the people on the periphery.
By this logic, to help grow a networking culture, we should always be open to chatting with people wherever we are. Who knows where the next idea will come from that will help you move forward with your goals?
*French expression commonly used in English to mean ‘the most important reason for something’s existence’
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