In my first post, I wrote about the term “networking” and about what a dirty connotation it has, but I never got into the definition of “networking” since I wanted you to actually read the series! Starting articles by defining our terms with dictionary definitions and etymology is probably not the best way to get your blog posts read, after all.
Well now that you’ve made it to the end of this series, I’m going to do the boring thing I should have done up front and define our term. The dictionary tells us that networking is the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. That’s a good enough working definition for me. The oil lobbyist I mentioned in my first post was a failure at networking because he was insincere and it was clear that no productive relationship was going to develop from that conversation. His networking approach was the networking equivalent of a cheap pick-up line one might hear in a bar. It was insincere, it was forced, and the listener’s defenses go up immediately because it makes the listener feel cheap and used. Networking isn’t about being smooth, about being slick, about being suave, but far too many people think that’s what it’s about. And it’s certainly not about using people. Networking is about being sincere, about creating productive relationships which hopefully result in you helping each other out and making new friends.
So get out there, make new friends, maintain the ones you already have and cultivate your network!
Peter Redpath is Vice President and Director of the Student Division at the Federalist Society. This is the final reprint in a series, based on his remarks at the AFF Networking Lunch in November 2012.