Steps to Networking – Step 3: What is networking?

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 1st, 2010

STEP 3: What is networking?

Networking is the process of building and maintaining relationships. It’s the development of a team that will support your efforts and the efforts of your network teammates to reach your and their goals. In practice, networking is the establishment of multiple informal, loosely-knit, mutual support alliances.

Networking is about forging bonds and sharing. It’s connecting with to people who have common interests and objectives and generously giving to one another other. Networking extends into every aspect of your life; it’s something you’ve been doing all of your life. When you recommend a movie, a housecleaner or a personal trainer, you’re networking.

We network as soon as we start making our own decisions. As kids, our friends introduce us to the latest and greatest; they turn us on to a constant flow of new friends and information. Rick Frishman’s 17 yea-old daughter Rachel, said she and her friends use networking with “basically everything we do.” Rachel was recommended for her job, found a SAT tutor, met guys who she dated and even arranged vacation plans through networking.

Good will is the foundation of networking, it supports and underlies all of your networking efforts. To successfully network you must constantly create good will and then build upon that good will to forge bonds that develop into close, meaningful relationships. Networking applies to all areas of life including:

* Friendships
* Romance
* Finances
* Career
* Personal development
* Health and fitness
* Physical environment
* Recreation
* Hobbies and interests

Implicit in networking is the understanding that there will be a giving back, an exchange, “if you do for me, I’ll do for you.” This unspoken swap of mutual promises underlies networks and keeps them together. Ironically; however, the best networkers are those who give to others because they sincerely love to give and not in order to receive something in return. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to give because even the most giving and generous networkers will eventually stop giving when they repeatedly receive nothing in return.

Networks are not built overnight, they take time, patience and nurturing. Time to meet new contacts, cultivate them and build relationships. Time to discover what your network partners need and to continually try to find opportunities to fully satisfy those needs.

Networking is a microcosm of life. It’s more about how you live your life than what you receive. It’s developing expertise, giving, sharing and building relationships. It’s the realization that people and generosity are the most important things in life, nothing else comes close, and it’s making a dedicated and concerted effort to steer your life in that direction.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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