I still remember what I was told when I was going for my MBA college education: “….most importantly, remember to build a network. Remember to make connections who would be useful to you in the future.”
I said: Sure.
And I took it word to word.
Rather, I preached it further as well for many years. Without even knowing if it was working for me or not. Without evaluating it on field.
In recent times, I see an upsurge in networking organisations in India. People have enrolled themselves to one or more networking organisation (business or social). When you ask them the reason behind it, most would say “to build a network.”
I started to feel discomfort with the thought.
Most importantly because we fake it.
College is there to study and make friends (not network). Company is there to work and have colleagues (even friends again), but not to network.
As soon as we have the network in mind, we start thinking about how the other person can be of future use to us. And instead of having a meaningful conversation or knowing each other better, we start looking for something which is particularly of use. Not a good start.
On top of it, I doubt this kind of networking is even useful. Because deep down, we both know the reason behind the concern which we are showing for each other.
Instead, I started focusing on what I call Need Based Networking.
In this process, instead of networking round the year, I network when I have the need. People first focus on building the network – with an assumption that they would have the idea/product/service later. I, on the contrary, started focusing on the product which I want to build or the service which I want to deliver.
I spend my maximum amount of time on this instead of attending social gatherings or networking meetings. Only once I am clear with the idea and know what I want, I start networking with the limited network I naturally have. I start asking people where I can find a good fit for the product/service which I am planning to build? I start looking out for them aggressively.
I realise this process saves me a lot.
- It keeps me out of all the fake relationships which I used to build just for the sake of networking. I accept, I did.
- It keeps me more focused on the product/service, basically the work which should be my core.
- When I finally built a network with the people who helped me build my product/service, it was a much stronger relationship than the earlier ones.
- I could clearly demarcate when I am building friends and when I am networking.
Life is much simpler 🙂
My learning: Do not focus on networking excessively. #Focus on need based networking i.e when you need it. Apply all that you can, to find the right person for that. And this would build you better network than a superficial network.