Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Networking is either about meeting people or generating leads

Someone asked a very good question on Linkedin about networking, and observed that many people seem to engage in "mindless networking" without having any objective in mind or considering the cost in time and effort.

Here's the answer I gave.

Note: I will write more about Clarity & Execution, two principles for achieving success at anything in life. Let me just observe for now that the overwhelming majority of Linkedin users are unclear about what they want from their career. Indeed, if the Linkedin profile of a person provides any indication as to the person's career goal or objective, then unfortunately, over 90% of people don't know what their career goal is. I know it's not easy to set a goal, but just remember that without a goal, all the hard work you do every day is just helping someone else to reach his goal. The good news is that setting goals can easily be learned, and can even be done slowly, one step at a time. For example, to borrow a traveling metaphor, you might not know exactly in which city of the world you would like to live in, but at least, it would be good to decide on which continent you want to live: Asia, North America, Europe, Africa, etc. Next, you can decide which region or province, then which city, and even which part of that city you'd like to live in.


"Networking" is a very ambiguous word and concept.

It's better, I think, if people are clear (at least to themselves) whether networking is, for them, 1. meeting new people or 2. generating leads.

Isn't success at anything in life based on CLARITY and EXECUTION?

That is, by being clear about what the (measurable) objective is, one can execute impeccably in order to hit that target.

Your question is excellent because a great many people, I suspect, will begin to think seriously about WHY they network.

The good news is that every person has something good to offer to the world, so even people who have been "mindlessly networking" did not necessarily waste time. All of one's connections CAN be useful in some way or receive benefits from oneself.

In other words, a person who has networked without a clear goal, is like someone who has built the second, third, fourth floors of a big building.

The only thing missing is the first floor, so that one's network can, so to speak, be grounded in reality and can provide useful benefits.

Peter Nguyen
Principal and Editor in Chief