Today in class (OB 523, Power and Politics in Organizations) we covered a case about Keith Farrazzi, a guy who shows up in several classes as an example of an Extreme Networker. I'm not advocating that extreme—which will have to go unexplained for the moment, it's late—but there are a few useful lessons to pack up and take away.
The main one is something I think I do when I play a game of networking: make sure the other players get something out of it. The second thing I don't do: make sure I get something out of it.
Networking feels like an icky game—something slimy that slimy people like to do. But I suppose that's just another extreme case. Really, it could be a creative act—something that creates possibilities wherethere was nothing before. The best networking I've ever done has done that. People get to find resources or ideas or people, and it's just a fun game to make it happen. I probably had access to a wealth of resources for myself, had I thought about collecting those chips and cashing them in.
Now I'm thinking about those chips.
What made the game of networking and connecting fun was that there was no pressure to take from it. It was really a leisurely game, just doing it for fun and the hope of being helpful. Now I'm thinking about consciously benefiting from it myself. It doesn't need to feel like extraction. It doesn't need to be extraction. You can't provide if you don't eat. It's not sustainable.