When my sister and I were young, the kid across the street from us had the most beautiful in-ground swimming pool you’ve ever seen. Spring-loaded diving board, built-in slide, 12-foot deep end, the works! The issue at hand was that despite the pool being glorious, the kid was not. She was bratty, selfish, and she held that pool over our heads like a freakin’ carrot in front of a donkey. She was not just handing out pool invites willy-nilly.
So, fall, winter, and spring my sister and I invited our neighbour over to bake cookies, to make pillow forts, and annoy the crap out of us, just hoping that when summer rolled around, we would get that sweet, sweet invite to the neighbourhood oasis.
How did this “networking” tactic work, you ask? Not well. Sure we got invited to the pool once in a while, but when we got there, the neighbour continued to annoy the crap out of us. In fact, in reviewing the statistics, I can say that I had about 4000% more fun splashing around in my best friend’s four-foot-deep above ground pool 100% of the time. Hell, even the 18-inch deep plastic kiddie pool that my mom set up in the backyard was more fun.
The moral of the story, folks… network with people you like.
I honestly started writing this blog with the intention of talking about the importance of networking before you wanted something from someone (which is how I got on the pool story in the first place), but as I was telling the story, I realized I had a much more important message to share.
For the purposes of this blog, intended for beginner to moderately experienced networkers, we’ll define networking as meeting, and staying connected with people who may be able to help you one day. The meeting part generally happens by way of introduction from a mutual friend (my first-aid instructor introduced me to the first person to hire me as a lifeguard), and the staying connected could be as simple as connecting on LinkedIn in and then twice per year, sending the person an article that reminded you of them and asking how they’re doing.
The 80/20 Rule: Networking Edition
I love the 80/20 rule. I apply it whenever I can. 20% of effort yields 80% of results. This philosophy is even more magnified when it comes to networking. I would argue that 5% of your connections will provide you with 95% of the help you will receive.
Think about it this way: You attend a party and there are 100 people there. You’ve got three hours, enough time to introduce yourself to everyone and have a few minutes of casual conversation. You try this tactic, and after about 45 minutes, you find a group of people you’re really connecting with. They like a lot of the same things as you, they have the same sense of humour and values and they seem pretty well put together in their lives. Do you rush off to meet the rest of the party guests, or do you stick around and deepen this connection with the people you already enjoy?
You stay… of course.
1. If you network with people you don’t like (the neighbour) you’ll probably end up in a situation you don’t like either (the pool).
2. You’re far more likely to find benefits in forming deeper connections with a few people who you do like, than many shallow connections with people you don’t like or barely know.
3. I am not advising you to shun potential networking opportunities just because you're not best friends with the person you met. I am warning you; however, that if you don't like the person with whom you are networking, that probably won't change if they offer you a job.
4. Use your time and energy wisely and enjoy your life!
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