What is networking
Man is a social being. This means that social connections play a big role in our life. Many useful acquaintances can solve almost any problem in a person’s life – from placing a child in a good school to obtaining a high position. And if you immediately thought that this article would be about working on the Internet (and you might have thought so, because net is a network, and work is work), then you were mistaken – we will talk about the science of building useful business (and not only) connections.
Wikipedia tells us that networking is “a social and professional activity aimed at quickly and effectively solving complex life tasks and business issues with the help of a circle of friends and acquaintances.” This is the most accurate definition of networking, however, I would also like to add that this is not just friendship for the purpose of profit, but building relationships based on trust, sympathy and a desire to help.
The theory of six handshakes
Networking is based on the theory of six handshakes, proposed by American psychologists Stanley Milgram and Geoffrey 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 to whom this envelope had to be transferred. But it was possible to transfer only through their acquaintances. At the end of the experiment, the psychologists calculated how many people each envelope went through on average, and the result was quite impressive – after just five people. It turns out that each of us is familiar with, say, Barack Obama, Johnny Depp or Bill Gates through only five people.
Microsoft tried to confirm the theory of six handshakes at one time, using data from the MSN messenger, and as a result they got 6.6 handshakes, which may well serve as confirmation of the veracity of the theory of Milgram and Travers.
Based on all this, it becomes clear that absolutely any connections are available to each person that can be useful to him both in his personal life and in the business environment. It remains only to make these connections correctly. In networking, there are several “rules” by which you can quickly expand your network of acquaintances.
1. Take the first step. Wherever you find yourself, and where the atmosphere is conducive to establishing new acquaintances, take the first step towards meeting other people. If you stand and wait until you are spoken to 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, by e-mail, in most cases, they do not communicate with short messages, as in social networks. Adhere to such rules that are established by the society and you will be able to establish contacts even more effectively.
3. Always be ready to meet. Carry enough business cards with you in case you make 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 because in addition to your name and contact details, they can also remind you of what you do and what services you provide. Pay enough attention to the business card handed to you by the interlocutor. Don’t put it in your pocket without looking. First, consider it and ask the interlocutor about something, for example, which number is better to call in a particular case, or ask him about the specifics of his activity. After showing attention, you will be much more likely that the interlocutor will remember you, and in a positive light.
See also: Original and unusual business cards.
4. Keep in touch constantly. Effective networking doesn’t involve meeting someone, exchanging business cards, and immediately forgetting they exist until you need their services. When networking, you need to constantly, but unobtrusively, remind yourself of yourself. At a minimum, send all your connections congratulations on important events in their lives via email or social media. But also consider the degree of closeness of your relationship with a particular person – you should not focus on delicate events from a person’s personal life if you are not close enough with him.
5. Spread only positive information. While building useful connections, try to talk only about positive things. The positive is always positive.