Slow Down! Networking is Not a Race

It’s easy to feel more professionally connected than ever. Linked-In broadcasts our resume, accomplishments and career goals to the world. New connections are a few clicks away. But, virtual relationships pale in comparison to personal, real-life conversation.

Networking is not transactional.

Networking is relational.

Many people size-up successful strangers searching for what they can “get.” Building a relationship creates long term trust and greater opportunities.

Relational. Networking. Is.


Yes, slow. That’s not what you wanted to hear, right?

We all want to hand over our business card to that key person and unlock the big opportunity that will help us reach our goals. It rarely works that way. This isn’t about a 30 minute chat over coffee. That latte is just the first step of the process.

Networking is not about a quick payoff centering on what the other person can do for you. It starts with what you might be able to do for the other person, without any expectation of reciprocity.

Networking is not a natural talent. It’s a skill. A skill you can learn, develop and refine. And, it comes easier to some than others.

Networking is not fast.

So, how do you begin this slow process and turn that cup of coffee into your next great opportunity, promotion or life-long mentor?

• Be curious. If you are genuinely interested in the other person, you will discover their passions. You’ll learn what makes them happy and what drives them crazy. You will hear about their biggest accomplishments and mistakes. None of this is about you. It’s all about them.
• Be grateful. After you meet someone, send a thank-you note or email. Mention something from your conversation. Do not ask for anything.
• Relieve pain. Make an effort to get to know the person’s pet peeves. What is their pain point? What does he or she lack? How can you make his or her life easier?
• Listen and Learn. You can network within your own organization. Approach someone you respect and admire. Get to know them. Your next big opportunity might be down the hall.

If you’re serious about growing your network and becoming a better leader, submit an application to Leadership Oakland. You’ll have the opportunity to practice and refine these skills through a comprehensive, proven program that has enhanced the careers and lives of more than 1200 professionals in Oakland County.