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Networking Outside of Networking Events


Robby

The best place to network isn’t always at networking events. Sometimes you should be networking just about anywhere else.

The biggest problem with networking is that so many people do it wrong. I explained this in a blog piece a while back about networking at a funeral. Here are some things which people think are networking:

  • Passing out your business card to someone you just met unprompted
  • Telling people about your career history for more than about five seconds
  • Explaining the benefits or features of the products you sell
  • Asking people if they can introduce you to their boss or their customers

This isn’t good networking. It’s not even bad networking. It’s worse than that: it’s being rude.

Networking Event
© Flickr User forschool

Networking is just a fancy way of saying “being helpful.” A networker is someone who is interested in other people, listens to them, and offers to help. That’s it. There’s nothing more.

We can have a detailed philosophical conversation about whether or not networkers are “in it for themselves” or not. Aren’t all people a little bit selfish and a little bit selfless? Most of us do want to make sure we have enough to eat and some money saved up. But we can all tell the difference between someone who is genuinely interested in others and someone who only cares about themselves.

So, networking. You can do it at an official networking group (like the hundreds of networking groups in Central Indiana). Where else?

Networking at Work

If you have a job, that’s a great place to network. Learn more about your colleagues. Grab lunch with them and find out about their interests. Ask them about their education, how they got into this job. See if they have advice for you. Be interested in them as a person. And ask if you can help them.

Networking at School

If you’re in school, talk to your classmates. Why are they there? Where are they hoping to go next? What are their passions? Do you know people they would like to meet?

Networking through Activities

If you’re involved in a social activity, such as a bowling league, a book club, or a group of friends that meets on a regular occasion, learn more about those people. And if you are attending events on behalf of someone else (such as your children), get to know the people who are there.


The secret to networking is pretty simple. Be nice, not pushy. That makes it pretty difficult to network at the grocery store, because there’s not much to do beside smile at people and let them go in front of you. All there is to talk about is what you’re buying, and if you have a question the person to ask works for the store.

But if you see someone at a store and see them again later in a professional context, you can mention that you shop at the same place. Because there it’s nice to be remembered.

Be kind. That’s all there is to it.

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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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Wed, January 3 2018 » Career Planning and Goal Setting, Self Development

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