How to give ‘networking’ a better reputation

LinkedIn Post, 7 June How could we reframe networking to give it a better name? It’s an incredibly important skill. Yet I’ve noticed how often people, especially women, say they feel deeply uncomfortable about it. Networking may be negatively viewed as:
·     Asking for a favour, with the risk of rejection
·     Having to demonstrate status
·     Wasting time because it’s hit and miss

What if we saw it instead as ‘building vital connections’? Rather like trees and their underground networks. As author Peter Wohlleben explains in a Smithsonian Magazine article, Do trees Talk to Each Other?, trees share water and nutrients, communicate, and signal distress via root-and-fungal connections.

Each of us has something to offer, even to those who are older or more experienced. Good networking is not about asking or taking, but mutual exchange. And networks can encourage this. For example, the Climate Coaching Alliance, which I’ve just joined, asks new members: ‘What questions are you holding?’ and ‘What contributions would you like to share?’

And instead of signalling status, those who’ve been around for longer should make it easy for younger people to connect, just like the ‘hub’ or ‘mother’ trees described in the article.

If we can facilitate a connection or job opening, so much the better. But the networking will be worthwhile in itself if it provides mutual enrichment, nurturing our interconnectedness and interdependence.

What’s your perspective on networking?

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