Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deconstructing "Networking = Not Working"

At a presentation I attended last night on finding a green job, moderator Joel Makower quipped that by changing one letter in the word "networking" it becomes "not working." My guess is that I wasn't the only one who hadn't heard this statement before, given the nervous laughter from the 250+ attendees looking to break into the much sought-after green jobs market. That said, the comment inspired me to reflect on this "equation" and how it illuminates realities about how, when, and why people network.

I interpret the statement in three ways:

* Networking isn't work
* People who network don't have jobs, and thus have the time (and the need) to network
* People who have jobs don't have the need or time to network, and so they don't

These statements combined are a sad commentary on networking and its reputation, which ought to be an ongoing, integral component of every professional's personal development and marketing plan. We ought to commit to practicing and improving our networking skills, and to that end take advantage of every opportunity to do so regardless of our employment status or personal preferences.

That we're in the middle of economic turmoil and corresponding job losses no doubt triggered this comment and the wave of networking towards which it was directed. My fervent hope is that the individuals who heard this comment last night, plus all others new to networking, learn to relish opportunities in all walks of life from here on -- and not just relegate their efforts to looking for a new job. That's a lesson I've learned over the past few years, and it continues to pay dividends in my personal and professional lives.

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