It's such a cliche.
But what is it exactly??
We've all heard of it, but is it really something that we truly understand? I thought I did, but I was wrong.
I had this vague notion that it was something that you go out and 'do' and then somehow stop 'doing' in between .. like a job ... or a sporting event.
At best, it was a speed-socializing, business-card-dropping, happy-hour, something or other.
At worst, it was something you had to be born into -- a rich person's domain ... and I knew that wasn't who I was and it surely wasn't where I'd come from.
Whatever it was, I knew for sure that it wasn't something that I 'did' and I was just fine without it, wasn't I?
The first time I really and truly "got" what networking is ... real networking was last year when I picked up a book called "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty", by Harvey Mackay -- and right there in plain English from the pen and mind of someone who's been networking for decades, I finally "got it".
See, I had this misinformed impression that networking was about being fake and opportunisitc. That you had to best people and build the biggest, bestest rolodex just for the sake of building it ...
SO wrong still!
Networking, it turns out, is all about "paying it forward".
How completely clueless I'd been!
- It's about making connections and building relationships by finding ways to be of real service to people.
- About building a network of people who will take your phone call, or (just as importantly) the call of someone you refer to them.
- All about having a resource of others in place so that when opportunity comes knocking, you have the ability to make the moves you want to and quickly!
As I was reading that book, suddenly so much of what I'd learned came crashing together and made sense.
Robert Kiyosaki said it most plainly, "The middle class work, but the rich build networks".
And suddenly I knew that that was what my parents had not been able to teach me and why.
You can't teach what you don't know. And for myself and as a parent, it was at that moment that I knew that I had a learning curve to tackle, and that if I wanted our lives to be different, it was the only way to get there.
The best news of all?
I also suddenly knew that it was something that could be learned. And just as my father had told me about his adventures in quitting smoking -- he knew that if it could be taught, then he could learn it, and so he did.
And so am I ... learning, sharing, paying it forward ... networking.
Here -- Now :)
What does networking mean to you?