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I HATE Networking

Well, I’ve said it – “I HATE Networking”.

You might find this strange coming from a guy who runs a blog called Personal Network and has been rambling on the subject on a regular basis for over 6 months. But I do!

On Monday evening, I went along to an event in Bath (soon to be my new home) – and when the presentations were over and the “chance to network” began, I just froze. It brought back many memories from the past, attending these events and just thinking “why the hell am I here?”. I got value out of the event – and have followed up with a couple of people who I listened to … but

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“networking” is not for me.

It’s not that I’m not a social animal – I get real energy from being around people (I am by no means a loner). It’s not that I’m the shy/retiring type – the 14 years I spent as an international photo-journalist meant I spoke to every sort of person to help get my job done. Maybe that’s the answer to my hating “Networking” – I don’t see the point.

I am also a great believer in serendipity – so crossing people’s paths and making connections is real fun for me. I suppose my way would be through making connections – the friend of a friend root. Networking is “cold calling” to me – just without the phone slam!

The crux of the matter is that personally, I dislike small talk – and meeting my objectives in not aligned to “networking” events. I’m not in a sales role – and “networking” makes me a salesman. Check out this video – it makes my skin crawl!

I have come to the conclusion that I am not alone. It would be interesting to find how many of this blog’s readers feel the same way. Networking gurus who train you to “work the room” and follow up “for a coffee” – might fit with some, but not me!

My belief that your Personal Network is your most important asset (more than house and cash) does not vary. It’s by standing back and assessing your network against your objectives that you make your plans. However, I don’t think my plans will ever include “networking” events.

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  1. January 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Dear Phil! Agree with you 100%. While there’s nothing wrong with having a network, understanding some of the dynamics involved in A) having it, B) appreciating it and C) even being aware of the importance of increasing it for the purposes of enhanced “survival” (emotional, physical, etc.), I think that networking simply for “the sake of it” or only to profit from it is total crap!

  2. January 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Laury. Thanks for the support – when I wrote this I thought I might be off track! If you think similar … then I must be right!

  3. January 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Have to know your ‘why’ or it’s wasted time. Just like ‘having a blog’ is an action, not a plan, networking is just a bad dinner and annoying people unless you have a plan, a reason for being there.

    Once you have a ‘why’, the ‘what’ ‘how’ and ‘where’ fall into place.

    I *love* networking, which is the primary point behind my Best Beloved and I choosing to become nomads, with no fixed place of residence. We’re traveling the US and Canada (and eventually the world) explicitly to make connections with people. It’s all based on our business teaching and coaching and our books, but in the end, it’s about meeting people to make connections that make all our lives richer.

    And networking for any other reason than life enrichment—yeah, I hate that, too.

    • January 28, 2011 at 12:28 am

      Hi Joel. Thanks for the comment. “And networking for any other reason than life enrichment—yeah, I hate that, too.” – think that might have been a better name for my post! Maybe it’s the networking events that I hate – you are very right about the “why” (for Networking and for Life!). Really enjoying the Commonsense Entrepreneur – I am cracking through in on a bizarre combination of car journeys without kids (audio) and iPad (when kids aren’t playing on games). I’ll be putting in an order for printed books – as I can think of 5-10 chums who would benefit from reading it. It’s what it says on the label “commonsense” – which is very hard to find. It’s a gem. Speak soon – and hope your travels are going well. Musical reference for our discussion “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” – The Pretenders!

      • January 28, 2011 at 12:32 am

        Maybe I’ll write another book called “The Thin Line is ‘Why?’ ” except I wonder if anyone would even understand the title, let alone the book 😉

        Glad the book is working for you. I’m focusing on my book coaching this year. so I’m cracking the whip on myself to get at least one more of my books published before year end, but I’m hoping for three.

        I’d love to use your comments on my website, if that’s okay with you.

  4. January 28, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Hi Joel. Maybe you can help mentor my book ambitions!? Absolutely no problem with using my comments – will have more when I get through it. My wife is fed up of me “quoting your little gems” at her – it’s a motivational read. P

    • January 28, 2011 at 1:48 am

      I would be *delighted* to kick you in the, um, I mean, help you get your book out of the ‘someday’ box. Just say when. Oh; wait; how’s ‘now’ work for you?

      I’m on the phone with my buddy Jerry Kennedy who says while he was reading my book for the first time, he was quoting me to his wife all the way through. Extremely gratifying to consider someone I respect quoting *me* to anyone!

  5. January 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Hi Joel – will be back to you via email for the kick in the *um*! P

  6. February 10, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Hey Phil. I loved the video – it was a good laugh. It reminded me of the cheesy old lab safety videos we had to watch in school. Like those videos, this one would have been waaayyy better with Jack Klugman.

    Gotta go and get ready for Women’s Business Network meeting tomorrow night – I’m the pres, afterall.

    • February 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

      Enjoy your Network meet – and keep an eye out for any ladies who are having that “I HATE Networking” frozen moment! P

  7. February 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Getting back into networking for career purposes and I do not relish the thought. Small talk in an contrived environment really does not seem the best way to connect with people who are going matter. Glad I found your blog which promises to have some good advice on viable alternatives!

    • February 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Clare. Thanks for the comment – sure there are many others like us. The blog is somewhat “philosophical” at times – and not offering too many answers at the moment. If there were a couple of things I would suggest from my research so far though:-

      1. Only do what you feel comfortable with. If you’re not a “salesman” who loves the challenge of the cold call – then don’t do it. You present your self best when you are comfortable and in character – and the opportunities that come along with then math you.
      2. Tell your existing Personal Network of acquaintences, colleagues, friends and family why you want to develop a network. Tell them what is your goal – and they will undoubtedly introduce you to the right people. The FOAF (Friend of a Friend) network is the strongest.

    • March 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      My best practical tip for networking is generosity. Find out who needs your help, make it all about them, and help. Generosity draws people.

      My wife attended a monthly meeting with me just because we do everything together. After hearing her introduce herself and seeing her generous spirit over months and months, she got 24 clients from that group without ever making a “pitch”, which we both despise. They came to her.

      • March 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm

        I like that (should be top of the list – in fact)!

  8. anonymous
    January 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I know that this blog post is old but I just wanted to say that I am relieved that someone else feels the same way about networking that I do.That video made me throw up on my mouth a little bit. I have never ever in my entire life had to network to find a job. I would simply apply for a job in which I qualify on Monster.com, get the phone call, and if the employer liked me and what my references had to say, I got the job. Simple. I know, it’s weird, a person getting a job because they a the best candidate NOT because they know someone–what a concept! I don’t know when the big idea of networking came into play in order to find employment but I will tell you, as an introvert and as a non-salesperson, I don’t like it one bit. I believe that networking encourages rewarding the mediocrities of the world just because they know someone and discourages hard work, intelligence, and the good old American competitive spirit. In other words, networking=the encouragement of hiring idiots. I compare the concept of networking to the following examples: How would you like it if you were an Olympic sprinter, and after years of training you won first place but then the gold medal was given to the fifth place winner because that person was friends with or related to one of the officials? What if you were up for a Nobel Prize for inventing a space ship that could go the speed of light while not liquefying the inhabitants thus enabling travel to distant planets for possible colonization but the prize went to the best friend and golfing buddy of one of the officials who made a volcano out of paper mache, vinegar, and baking soda? Now, if you put these examples in context to the plight of an average job seeker and you will see how unfair to the networking really is. It’s almost like, why bother working hard or studying hard in school? Am I now supposed to tell my son to not bother with his studies and “just party” because it won’t matter anyway because all that matters now is who you know? In my most recent experiences in the job seeking realm, I have personally witnessed that it doesn’t matter how little education or experience or even hygiene skills the networker has, heck this person could be going up for a prestigious IT job and have Forrest Gump’s IQ, but if they know someone, they will get the job over a hard worker with an exemplary academic record every time. That, in itself is sad. No wonder the world laughs at us and no wonder our businesses are failing and have to be bailed out. If businesses would adopt a hiring model which encompasses WHAT you know (giving job seekers knowledge tests pertaining to the job listing and the person with the highest score gets the job) rather that WHO, then, and only then could we remain competitive in the global market.

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