The Nature of Networking

If you were growing your own food, would you wait until you were hungry to plant your seeds?

Think about the question above. Certainly, you would not wait! Why? Because of simple laws of nature. When you plant seeds, you have to nurture them, and wait for them to grow. There is nothing humanly possible that you can do to accelerate the process. You water them, make sure the soil is rich, and allow time and nature to do the rest.

This natural law applies equally to human relationships—which make up a strong measure of the quality of life we each will have in our time on earth. This is true in all parts of our life, and is extremely relevant when it comes to our careers.

Unfortunately, too many of us forget this law when it comes to NETWORKING. It’s also why networking has become frustrating and difficult for so many people, and why you need to start doing it sooner rather than later.

In reality, there are what I call the “two faces” of networking. The first “face” deals with what most people associate with networking: the process of building a list of contacts.

But what doesn’t get as much attention, and is much more effective yet more challenging, is turning those contacts into relationships (the other face). Building relationships is a long-term goal. Building contacts is often regarded as, although mistakenly, a short-term goal.

The common mistake, and the point of frequent frustration is, most people don’t make an effort to make contacts until they have an immediate, short-term objective (i.e. they need a job.)

Building contacts, or collecting names and phone numbers, theoretically takes a few simple steps. Building relationships requires more than passing and collecting business cards. It isn’t the occasional phone call, the holiday greeting card, or remembering names of family members you never met.

Building relationships takes more time and requires more work. And you cannot possibly build as many deep, lasting relationships in your life, as you may be able to cram names into your address book. Yet, one good friend is often worth more than dozens of names of people whom you barely know and have little in common. In essence, we are speaking of quality over quantity.

When considering these points, think again about what you would do if you had to grow your own food. Would you plant your seeds now, or right before the time of hunger?

Now, I’ll let you in on a secret: you DO have to grow your own food! Most of us have to work for a living, and provide for ourselves. Odds are, your current and future relationships will play a pivotal role in the results you create. For this reason, above all, the time to begin planting your seeds is NOW! Start calling the people you know, and ask about their needs. Meet new people, learn about their challenges and frustrations. Do this regardless of whether you are seeking a job.

Plant the seeds, get out there, promote yourself, and allow nature to take its course.

Keith F. Luscher (Google Search) is the author of five books, including Prospect & Flourish and Don’t Wait Until You Graduate. He is also a recruiting director for The Money Foundation /H. Beck, Inc. Prior to this work, he served professionals in the insurance and financial services industries as a management consultant. In that role, he advised producers on issues related to marketing and prospecting, and developed groundbreaking educational curriculum. Luscher previously worked in capital fund raising for eleven years, serving nonprofit organizations around the country. In addition, he is also a nationally known author, speaker, and expert in media, interpersonal communication and marketing.

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