Networking – Meeting Arnie

by Sid

Networking is an important necessity; it is also a very subtle necessity. Do it too little, and you are regarded as an antisocial; do it too much and you are considered a desperate leech. In the organizational context (and mind you only that context) why do people have the need to network? Maybe to get a new lead resulting in a job; or maybe to get a new business contact with the aim of boosting sales. It could also be to find out and establish contact with other people with a similar mindset or interest so as to ensure that the workplace becomes a little more interesting. It could very well be to satisfy that very basic human need of being heard from (where art thou Maslow ?). If you are a manager, sometimes you need to network within the organization to smoothen out certain processes, and get them done right and on time. Whatever the motivation, there is a the reality that while working one needs to reach out to other people. Maybe if you are on the ISS or in a lab at Antarctica, your dimensions and motivations for networking would vary; but not necessarily the necessity of it. What do we need then to network effectively ?

There is no first and foremost, but to have an essence of timing is important. To know when to reach out to somebody at the workplace is a skill that is part intuitive and part common sense. You drop an email with the words

“Hi Mr. Schwarzenegger, I am so-and-so, and I work in your company (or XYZ company) as a business development manager. Would you like to grab a cuppa this Friday? Cheers so-and-so.”

All fine and good, crisp and to the point, you could’t have gone wrong, or so you think. Well, what you didn’t consider are the messages in his inbox around seven or eight emails before your ‘Hi Mr. Schwarzenegger’ email. One read

“Sorry Arnie, We have decided not to put you up for re-election. We need fresh ideas for the state, and hence we need a new nominee.”

or even,

“..I had to write to your office address. I just can’t take this anymore. After four children and our so many years together, you do this to me. I am leaving”.

Would you still be interested in having coffee with Arnie, if you knew about these emails. If you do, well you are incredibly driven or maybe it is possible, just that little bit, that you are being incosiderate and insensitive. More importantly, what would Arnie think when he sees your email? Would he be that interested and keen to meet up with you for a latte?

Not all of us are blessed with the intuition as to whats the heat like in someone else’s inbox. And if we had, then we should be playing the stock market or taking part in poker tournaments (aka Mel Gibson in Maverick ). But if we don’t; then at least we should spend some time finding out a litte bit about the person, about his background , to understand where Arnie finds himself in life. Just don’t be all self-centred and think of how and what you will benefit through the encounter. Find ways in which you could be of use, or in other words you are a value proposition, to the other party as well. And who knows, over coffee you might even develop a connection there.