What is networking?
Man is a social being. And that means that social ties play a big role in our lives. A lot of useful acquaintances can solve almost any problem in a person’s life – from placing a child in a good school to getting a high position. And if you immediately thought that the discussion in this article would be about working on the Internet (and you would think so, because net is a network, and work is work), then you were mistaken – it will be about the science of building useful business (and not only) connections.
Wikipedia tells us that networking is “a social and professional activity that aims to quickly and efficiently solve complex life problems and business issues with the help of a circle of friends and acquaintances.” This is the most accurate definition of networking, however, I would like to add that this is not just friendship for the benefit, but building relationships based on trust, sympathy and desire to help.
Theory of Six Handshakes
Networking is based on the theory of six handshakes proposed by American psychologists Stanley Milgram and Jeffrey Travers back in 1969. The essence of this theory is that each person is familiar with any other inhabitant of the planet through a chain of acquaintances consisting of only five people (that is, six handshakes). Psychologists deduced this theory by conducting an experiment: 300 subjects were given envelopes containing the name of the person who needed to pass this envelope. But it was possible to transmit only through their friends. At the end of the experiment, psychologists calculated how many people on average each envelope went through and the result was quite impressive – in just five people. It turns out that each of us knows, for example, Barack Obama, Johnny Depp or Bill Gates through just five people.
The theory of six handshakes at one time was tried to confirm by Microsoft, using the data of the MSN messenger, and as a result they got 6.6 handshakes, which may well serve as confirmation of the truthfulness of the theory of Milgram and Trevers.
Based on all this, it becomes clear that every person has access to absolutely any connection that may be useful to him both in his personal life and in the business environment. It remains only to make these connections correctly. There are several “rules” in networking, following which you can quickly expand your network of acquaintances.
1. Take the first step. Wherever you find yourself, and where the atmosphere contributes to the establishment of new acquaintances – take the first step towards other people. If you stand and wait until you speak first, you will expand your network of acquaintances for a very long time. You can get acquainted anywhere – at a social event, at a business conference, in line at the ticket office, at a cat show, and so on.
2. For networking, use all available communication methods – personal communication, phone, email, social networks, etc. Each of these methods has its own rules of communication – for example, in most cases they do not communicate via e-mail via short messages, as in social networks. Adhere to such rules that are established by society and you can establish contacts even more effectively.
3. Always be ready to get to know each other. Carry enough business cards with you in case you have a good acquaintance. You can’t do without business cards in networking – after all, a person who communicates a lot with new people is not able to remember everyone and everyone. Business cards are convenient in that in addition to your name and contact details, they can also remind you of what you do and what services you provide. Show enough attention to the business card handed to you by the interlocutor. Do not put it in your pocket without looking. First, consider it and ask the interlocutor about something, for example, which of the numbers is best to call in a particular case, or check with him the specifics of his activity. After the attention shown, you will have a much greater chance that the interlocutor will remember you, and in a positive light.
4. Keep in touch constantly. Effective networking does not imply that you met a person, exchanged business cards and immediately forgot about his existence until the moment when you need his services. When networking, you need to constantly, but unobtrusively remind yourself. At a minimum, send all your connections congratulations on important events in their lives by e-mail or on social networks. But also take into account the degree of closeness of your relations with a specific person – to focus on delicate events from a person’s personal life, if you are not close enough to him, is not worth it.
5. Only disseminate positive information. When building useful relationships, try to talk only about positive things. Positive always has to itself.