The Dirty on Networking

Happy Friday!

You’ve gotten through another week.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve waded through a week of political excrement while simultaneously continued to build the moat around my digital castle.

It’s just about the best one can do.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

A lunatic extravert though I am, I’ve never liked the concept of networking.  I had never understood why I didn’t want to get out and meet new people.

After all, if I’m incredibly outgoing and gregarious, why wouldn’t I like introducing myself to other people with whom I could be outgoing and gregarious?

It seems the answer comes not from stagefright but our moral compass.

A 2014 paper, “The Contaminating Effects of Building Instrumental Ties: How Networking Can Make Us Feel Dirty,” explains an interesting phenomenon.

When trying to build a professional, rather than personal, network, most people feel dirty.

Yes, dirty.

From the paper’s abstract:

We focus in particular on professional-instrumental networking: the purposeful creation of social ties in support of task and professional goals. Unlike personal networking in pursuit of emotional support or friendship, and unlike social ties that emerge spontaneously, instrumental networking in pursuit of professional goals can impinge on an individual’s moral purity—a psychological state that results from viewing the self as clean from a moral standpoint—and thus make an individual feel dirty.

This is a critical observation.

Here’s what to do about it:

    • You’re there for a reason.  Whenever I’m going to a professional shindig, I remind myself that I have something valuable to give, or I wouldn’t have been invited.
    • Get clean.  I remind myself that most others there either feel dirty themselves or have felt dirty in the past about networking and have gotten over it.

    • Smile!  When I first walk into a room full of people, I smile.  I’ve made it a rule.  Smiling activates tiny molecules in your brain that fend off stress. These molecules, called neuropeptides, facilitate communication between neurons in your brain. Also, when you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. The same rule applies to Zoom calls.

    • Say your new acquaintance’s name three times.  “John, it’s a pleasure to meet you.  And what do you do, John?   John, let me introduce you to my friend, Bill.”  Think you’ll forget John’s name after that?  Unlikely.

    • Have your “elevator speech” ready.  It can be as simple as this: “Hi, my name is _____.  I work in _______.  I/my team ________.  What’s your name?”  For example, “My name is Sean Ring.  I’m the Editor of the Rude Awakening.  Every morning, I share my thoughts about how to get ahead in this crazy world over your first cup of coffee.  What’s your name?”  Simple.

    • Try not to corner anyone.  This is one I’ve always had trouble with.  If someone’s interesting, I don’t want to let my new acquaintance go.  But let him go, I must.  Always open the circle when someone approaches.  It refreshes the conversation.  And it takes the pressure off each person by allowing the new guy to speak for a bit.

    • Actively listen.  This takes practice.  Try to hang on to every word.  Don’t just listen for keywords.  Listen for everything.  As Sherlock Holmes once said, “Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details.”  Those details are where business begins.

 

If you follow those seven points, you’ll be on your way to networking success.

One Networking Success Story

Let me count the ways.

I suppose I started thinking about this yesterday when I wrote the NFT piece.

I couldn’t have reached those conclusions in a month of Sundays on my own.  I was feeling extra grateful to Eamonn for letting me on the call.

It’s pretty funny how we met.

Eamonn and I are both London Business School graduates, but we didn’t meet there.  He was a few years ahead of me and was already a successful trader by the time I attended.

Banking can be quite an insular world, so one is only a few degrees of separation away from everyone else.

Unbeknownst to us, we had an entire network of mutual friends.

My best man, Guy, was one of my first students in Singapore.  He is a few years older than I am, but we used to go out all the time.

He was friends with all the Credit Suisse brokers in Singapore whom I’d worked with from London but never met in the flesh.

One night we were all out for a beer.  There, I finally met all the guys I had spoken to years earlier when I was a pup on the London Listed Derivatives desk.

Though Eamonn had worked for Citi and Emirates, he was also friends with all of them.  So I met him that night.

After a while, and I can’t remember how it happened, Eamonn joined the financial training firm I work for.  Together, we train a load of banking graduates every year.

It’s an amazing global coincidence.

But these things manifest themselves when you put yourself out there.

Why Networking is Critical to Your Success

Lone wolves rarely survive in this environment.  But the wolfpack thrives.

Here are a few other reasons why networking matters to your success:

Idea Exchange

Get together.  Drink a few beers.  Brainstorm.

It’s an age-old formula for a reason.  The brilliant ideas that groups come up with can change the world.

New Opportunities Spring Up

“Hey, I can’t do this, but my client needs it.  Can I hire you?”

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me.  Develop a reputation as someone who delivers excellence consistently, and your mastermind group will look to you for help when they need it.

And when you’re in a pinch, you’ll have good friends on whom you can rely.

Boost Your Intellect By Appropriating Others’

I feel like I grew another brain the other night on that crypto call.  There’s no way I could’ve done that on my own in a timely fashion.  And you know I’m not the most modest man ever, so trust me when I say it: I need friends to guide me in the right direction.

And I’m happy to return the favor when it’s my turn.

A New Library

There’s nothing more intimate between friends than sharing their thoughts on a book.  When you hear, “Hey, have you read this yet?” you’ll know you’re in a good place.

Boost Your Self-Confidence

The more you talk, contribute, and gain, the more confident you’ll feel.  But the key is getting out there, not minding rejection, and consistently contributing.  Be the idea person.

FDR once said of Churchill, “He has 100 ideas every day, of which four are any good.”

I figure if my buddies like 5 out of 100, I’m doing just fine.

Forge Long-Term Friendships

If you want to stop feeling dirty about networking, make them your friends.  There’s nothing better than that.

We do Zoom calls with beer and wine.  Just to catch up.  You don’t have to get something every time you talk.

Just chatting with a dram in your hand and a smile on your face pays great dividends on its own.

Just try a couple of these ideas this weekend, and let me know how it goes as asksean@paradigm.press.

Have a lovely, restful weekend!

All the best,

Sean

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