“Networking” is a topic all over the media for the past several years as a panacea for all of our professional and personal challenges:

  • How to find a job
  • Generating sales leads
  • Finding help for home repair
  • Getting a referral for a physician

Like a lot of buzzwords, there are different interpretations of what networking really is.  In my eyes, the following definition fits best:

“True networking – effective networking – is based on relationships that are cultivated and nurtured so that a mutual exchange of information, advice, referrals and support takes place.”
L. Michelle Tullier, Ph.D. Networking for Job Search and Career Success

I like the following words and phrases:

  • “…relationships …”
  • “…that are cultivated and nurtured…” 
  • “…mutual exchange…”

The first phrase, “…relationships…” is at the heart of it.  First and foremost, networking is about establishing relationships.  It is not simply meeting folks. It is about establishing a launching point for an ongoing dialog.

The second phrase, “…cultivated and nurtured…”, means that it is not a one time activity. It is an ongoing activity.  Professionally, I have relationships that span decades.  Sometimes, the “…cultivating and nurturing…” is a phone call to say hello.  Other times it’s an email to let a person know there name came up in conversation and made me think of them.  Yet other times, it’s to get together for coffee or lunch to get caught up or go to an event of mutual interest.  The message here is that it requires ongoing investment.

The third phrase, “….mutual exchange…”, implies that the benefits go both ways.  The folks most successful at networking generally give something first before asking to receive something back.  It could be as simple as facillitating a connect the other person to a resource or providing an email address.  The point is, give first – pay forward.

Reach out to somebody today.  Happy networking!