I attended my high school class reunion this past weekend. It was a great time and nice to see some old friends and acquaintances, two of which I hadn’t seen in the 30 years since our graduation. That sappy Peaches and Herb song Reunited was popular during our high school days.
As I looked around the room, I thought about how well I’d kept up with some of them – and how poorly in some cases. Now days, social media tools like LinkedIn and Facebook help us to keep in touch better than ever before. I did a little research and found that I’m connected with about one third of my former classmates on Facebook and with one on LinkedIn.
I guess that makes sense since I generally keep those sites separate for personal and professional connections, but the point is that as much as I use these tools, I’m underutilizing them.
Win win networking
I also thought about why we network. Certainly you want to have contacts that can help you some day. You never know when you might be looking for a job and need someone to help you. But that makes it sound like you network to use your connections for personal gain.
In reality, it’s not a zero sum gain situation. Networking done right is for both parties to win. You may be looking for a job and I, or someone in my network may be looking for someone with your skills. As a consultant, you’re always looking to make contacts to land your next gig or perhaps to help a client find an employee they’re looking for.
A secondary benefit of networking for me is to maintain familiarity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a former colleague in a public place like a restaurant and couldn’t remember their name. I’ve found that when I keep up with my network, whether we regularly interact or we just observe each other’s activities, I’m better able to remember faces and names.
So I’ve bumped up my Facebook requests with my old classmates to get me up to 50%. I hope I’m able to help them in some capacity some day. If not, we’ll enjoy coming up to date on each other’s personal and professional activities. Win win networking like that will result in stronger connections.
At the very least, I’ll remember who they are if I ever run into them in a restaurant.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.