Archive for June, 2007

Networking – Quantity or quality?

There’s an interesting debate on one of the networking sites I use today.  If you head here, there’s a fairly lively discussion on the merits of accepting or declining a networking invitation from someone you don’t really know.

I wonder what people really think about this. Is networking more about the quality of the contacts you have, or is it a mainly quantity based phenomenon where amassing large numbers of contacts is the key to success?  I’m not a networking expert, and I’m not going to try to be. I have however done a fair bit of networking in the past, both traditionally in the ‘go out and meet people’ sense, and the more modern way of doing it online.  The discussion I pointed to above is based really on the online networking, but it’s a valid point in whatever form you choose to use. It also has additional ramifications with the way contacts might be penalised by declining their invitations . I’m going to ignore this question here and just ask – Do you network with everybody, or pick and choose carefully?

Consider this for a moment. If you kept the details of everyone you met, would you be confident in referring those people to friends?  If you collected the business card of a financial advisor 2 years ago whom you’ve not met before or since, would their number be the one you give to a friend in need.   I think the answer is probably not; more likely definitely not! So by default we are already performing some sort of pre-qualification around our networking acquaintances. How do you think you come across to them? Are you someone who hands out cards and then flits away into the night like some kind of business ninja, never to be seen again?  If you are, then from my own perspective, yours will be one of the cards that I routinely discard at the end of the week. If I can’t match up a name, face and conversation with a card, it is unlikely to make it into my networking file.

You may think that’s harsh, but whats the alternative?  We could keep every card, every contact, every telephone number and name of everyone that I bump into at any event, anywhere. In fact, quite a lot of people seem to try to do this. In the online networking world it results in huge numbers of contacts, this is true. But are they relationships that you could pick up the phone and ask for with any likelihood of them remembering who you are?  In the traditional world of business cards, it results in huge files of business cards and I have personally seen people look at a page and shrug their shoulders because they don’t know anyone in the file!

Networking is a strategy like anything else, so we should have an idea of the results we want to achieve from it. This will be different in almost every case, so I’m not going to cover it here; suffice to say there MUST be a strategy of some sort. If there isn’t, we need to ask ourselves the questions “What do I want to get from this?” and “What am Iachieving at the moment?”.   My personal strategy is based around quality. I network with people whom I know and trust and I would be happy to refer. Its easy to break into that circle – come talk to me. Don’t just hand me a business card and disappear. You’ll have wasted your card and the time it took to give it to me. If you talk to me though, let me get to know what you do,  how you do it and why you would be a beneficial contact for people I already know – that is what my networks are about. Anything else and I might as well have picked up the phone book.

What’s your networking strategy? Quality or quantity? Real relationships or phone book networking?   I’d love to know.



Hate your job? Hate your boss? Hate your colleagues? Hate your work? Feel stuck, trapped, unable to fulfil your potential? 

Can I ask why?

I don’t just want a glib answer here either. I want a real good reason why you aren’t doing what you want to be doing, or at least moving toward it.   Do some soul searching on this one. Find me a reason. Find yourself a reason. People keep telling me they’re not happy with their lot. That they know that they could do better if they were just given the opportunity, but I ask you – Where is that opportunity coming from? What do you need to see to know it’s an opportunity?

If you don’t know what an opportunity looks like, you’re not likely to see it. You need to spend some time figuring out what it is you DO want, rather than just bemoan the facts of life as they stand at the moment.

Even given the direction and vision you need to achieve though, it can sometimes be hard to correlate where you are now to where you want to be, and this can rightly cause some internal challenges. I’ve worked on jobs where there’s been far too much driving involved in the past, and one thing I hate is sitting on the motorway too regularly. I do remember getting very frustrated and very uptight with this, until I reminded myself of this one, simple fact.

“I’m doing what I’m doing because I want to do it.”

A colleague once told me ‘Winners are the people who do the things that losers won’t’, and he was absolutely right! Be default, that means that sometimes, as winners, we need to do things we don’t like doing. The light is at the end of the tunnel though, and if we keep on going, we will reach it.

‘The secret of happiness is not doing what one likes. It is liking what one does.’ – J M Barrie.

PS – Comment if you like, ask questions if you like. I can see I’m getting people reading, but without feedback it’s a little awkward to find out if people like it or not.

About me.

A professional speaker focused on helping people get more out of their day; for themselves and their companies.
I help people get things done by helping them realise that all the knowledge in the world will do absolutely NOTHING for them - if they don’t use it.
I want to change the world, and getting the right people in the right place is only the start. In todays world it is so, so easy to get pulled into doing all the wrong things. I help people figure out what the right and wrong things are and make sure their energies are focused in the right place.
Feel free to comment, or you can contact me by emailing markbell AT mbsprogress DOT com