Thursday, June 09, 2011

Networking Schmetworking

I hate to have to admit it, but networking may be worthwhile.

I hate to admit it because until recently, I had a very poor opinion of networking.  Beyond its bandwagon-like participation in the dastardly trend of turning perfectly good nouns into verbs by adding gratuitous "ings," networking had a distastefulness of its own.  It always seemed to be the sort of schmoozy thing that shallow people do to get ahead so that they don't actually have to WORK.  It was the sort of activity in which chic-suited people who point at you and say, "I'll pencil you in" or "we should do lunch" partake.  I have enjoyed this opinion and I am now sorry to have to ashcan it.

But I'm adult enough to finally recognize that networking has value, even if you're not a social or organizational climber.  The article that tipped the scales is Sarah Green's Six Rules for Networking at Work.  It's true, connecting with colleagues is just as crucial, if not more, than connecting outside your organization.  You want to build a team?  Rebuild a team that fell apart?  Get a project done that involves experts from several teams?  You need networking know-how.

The more I learn about collaborating and leadership, the more networking appears as a truly useful tool for getting things done at work. Do you really know what your colleagues' backgrounds and expertise are, how we approach problems, where we get the answers we need, what sorts of things we do in our free time, etc.? I do for some, but only my "strong ties."  I think that's probably true for all of us.

So I need more weak ties.  And I'm not talking neckwear.



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