Copy it's question of what people need to be successful  -- I think there's also this we have access to the networks that we need?
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Gracious reader,

Early in my career, b-school classmates started to tell me that I was a good networker.


When I asked what they meant by "networker," it turned out that I often knew the doings of people in our graduating class, from new babies to new jobs.  Or, that I had sent a PR/Comms job posting to a classmate who was planning to leave a senior public sector role:  he got the job.  When an old friend, a health care exec, needed a new bus dev person, I intro'd her to a supersmart chemist who wanted a career change:  she hired him.

Mostly my talent was being in touch with people, which I enjoyed.  I listened, remembered what people needed/wanted, and helped when possible. 

When I hit a career transition point about 10 years out of school, I was able to send a note to a list of 100 people in my circle.

This note led me to the next step in my career journey.
Hubs and Nodes
Play a Long Game
  • When you manage people, part of your job is teaching your team members how to navigate your organization's network. Henry Ward's article The shadow org chart is a good intro to the notion of an internal network.
  • "I give, and give, and give, to the point of exhaustion," is a lament I've seen on social media.  Sometimes you've gotta say, "No."  You may decline networking requests!  Networking can require emotional labor, and must be balanced with getting your own work done, spending time with loved ones, and renewing yourself.  (When someone declines your request for a coffee meeting, listen to them and move on.)
  • "Confidential to Friend or Phony?: The best way to judge an individual is by observing how he treats people who can do him absolutely no good."  Was it Dear Abby or Ann Landers?  Ask Quote Investigator.
Do give before you get.  And yet.  

Back at my career inflection, someone I had connected with a job opportunity was on my list of 100 people I contacted.  He did not respond.  When I heard from him again, he was looking for a job:  I gave him an ear, and my best thoughts.  And yes, the next time he reached out, he was looking for a job.  By then, I'd known him for more than 15 years.  This time I wished him well, and declined the meeting.

The experts advise you to play a long game when it comes to building relationships.  I agree. 

The long game is meant to be played for mutual benefit.  15 years, without any mutuality to the benefit?  That was a longer game than I wished to play. 

More to the point, I wasn't really in his network any more -- I was merely in his contact database.

Thank you for reading.

Anne Libby
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