Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The trouble with networking

Photo credit: svilen001 (stock.xchng)

“Networking” is a cold word. It sounds creepy, impersonal, and exploitative – and too often, that’s the way it plays out in real life.

How many career advice pages practically order you to go to networking events?

How many do you actually go to?

Have you found that they can take a big bite out of your budget (very few networking events are totally free)?

How much business have you gotten because of your attendance at networking events?


Have you met many (or even any) people who could be viable clients at networking events?

Have you seen too many job-seekers and not enough (if any) job-givers at networking events?

Do you feel guilty about asking successful people for help because you think you have nothing to offer them in return?

Do you collect other people’s business cards, then look at them the next day and wonder what the hell you should do next?

If you have gotten business because of a networking event, do you feel that you’ve earned it, or do you just feel you lucked out?

Do you feel that traditional, in-person networking events favor people who are loquacious, on the “E” side of Myers-Briggs? What happens if socializing with strangers drains you, or you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to speak unless there’s a good reason to? 

What else can you do to gain new business – with the people who can use your help the most?



  1. This is amazing...all the same questions that I've asked myself! Consequently I have no answers for you! I do think that networking programs tend to be like nearly all "marketing opportunities" in that they are developed with the goal of making money for the program creators, without a whole lot of regard for how much they serve the participants.

    Virtually all my success as a writer came from one thing: producing quality writing that filled a need, and getting it out in the marketplace. This is pull marketing rather than push, and IMHO it is the only thing that works consistently well unless you are very, very lucky. My biggest book deal resulted from an editor using Google to find a guest blog I had posted on a website. My biggest book sales have come from shoppers searching for keywords on Amazon and Google Books. I've also gotten results from giving away some of my works to get people interested in my writing.

    I have tried everything from speaking at conventions to print advertising to contests to booksignings, without any form of push marketing getting significant results. This is just my experience (and I'm not an "E" either!), but there it is for what it's worth!

  2. Diane Laurence used the term, push marketing. As I have learned, push networking fails, too. By push networking, I mean that I pushed myself. I talked about me and asked if people could help me.

    Now that I've learned that lesson, I'm reading that successful networking is all about pull -- that is, drawing people towards yourself by making it about them. This means taking interest in their lives and their needs.

    These lessons are REALLY frustrating for me because, having been Obamasized three years ago, I'm at the end of my financial rope. It has taken this long to figure out how my Defense industry skills can translate into commecial industry jobs. Panic is setting in. I really don't have time to develop relationships. But apparently, pull networking is the only thing that will work.

    Good luck to you. We have a lot to learn about job hunting.

  3. I get invited to networking events that are practically nothing but ways to collect money from participants. I haven't come away with a single deal from such events.

  4. I agree; you have to "pull" them in with good work (and a good personality!), not "push" your wares on folks who may not need what you are selling. I look for willing customers!

  5. Networking is always awkward for me and I always feel like I'm doing it wrong. There is a book that I think can help me and by extension "us." Check it out.