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Networking at a Funeral


Robby

I gave a presentation recently and brought up the idea of networking at a funeral. What? Networking at a funeral?? That seems like the most awful, insensitive, unprofessional, and terrible idea ever, doesn’t it? Maybe.

wavingatyou
© Flickr User wavingatyou

The idea of networking at a funeral sounds like it might come out of an article from the satirical newspaper The Onion. In fact, a made-up news story from them Study: 89 Percent Of Networking Nonconsensual, says that:

A new study published Tuesday by Emory University determined that 89 percent of networking encounters occur forcibly and without the consent of one of the parties involved, a disturbing finding that suggests far more people are victims of unwanted career-related discussions than was previously thought.

The study, which examined data from 1,400 abusive incidents in which individuals were compelled against their will to assist another’s professional ambitions and “talk shop,” also incorporated interviews with dozens who were violated by acts of nonconsensual networking, many of whom described similarly traumatic and dehumanizing experiences.

The word “networking” has a bad rap. That’s because most people don’t actually know what networking is. They think it’s running around and giving your business card to people. They think that networking is about pushing yourself, what you have to offer, and forcing others to have business conversations. But that’s not networking at all! That’s making a hard sell. And that is terrible.

Instead, networking is something else entirely. Networking is helping. It’s being useful to other people without the expectation of anything in return.

So: is a funeral a good place to be helpful to other people without the expectation of anything in return? Absolutely! When people are grieving or upset, it’s good to be there for them. It’s good to make a note to bring them food later, or send them flowers, or just check in on them. People who have lost someone close to them need support. That may be just listening, or letting them know you care about them.

Of course, you shouldn’t go to a funeral and pass out your business card! You shouldn’t go to a funeral and start chatting up a stranger about the products your company has to offer, or the career move you are looking to make. That’s a bad idea.

But guess what? Doing those things are a bad idea everywhere, not just at a funeral. You shouldn’t pass out a business card ever. Instead, you should wait for people to ask for yours. You shouldn’t start talking about your business or your products or your career. Instead, you should talk to other people about their lives and their interests—as it is relevant to the context of where you are when you are talking to them.

So yes, you can network at a funeral. If you’ve ever been to one and tried to be helpful there (or helpful later), you’ve already done exactly this. That’s because networking is merely being helpful–as long as you are just being helpful without expecting anything in return.

I hope that we don’t run into each other at a funeral. But if we do, I will be networking. I will be open to who you are, listening for what you need, and doing my best to be humble and of service to you.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, April 15 2014 » Uncategorized

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