What’s the purpose of networking if it doesn’t work for me? That’s what I was asked last week.

I posted a comment in the Answers section of Linked In asking for advice on a cover for my new book Go Ahead, Talk to Strangers- The Modern Girl’s Guide to Fearless Network. A woman commented that she wouldn’t buy a book on networking because she had done it all and tried it all and networking doesn’t work for her.  To each his or her own and I respect her comment. But it made me wonder what was it that she thought she was doing that she considered it to be networking and did she have that same negative attitude that came through very loudly through my computer screen?  I sent her a private note because since I didn’t know her situation I didn’t want to comment publicly. So far, she has not responded.

Now I get the fact that networking doesn’t come naturally to all people.  But come on.  It’s about relationship building.  I keep drumming that point home every time I speak about networking.  There are a lot of people out there who think showing up at a networking event, introducing themselves to a few people and exchanging cards is networking. Or that connecting to a bunch of people on Facebook or Linked In is considered being “well networked”. They think that sending out their resume to everyone they know announcing they need a job or a resume critique (when you haven’t heard from them in ages) is networking.  What amazes me is when they have the nerve to get mad when they get no or minimal response.

Let’s face facts, networking is a contact sport. It only works when you are actively engaged with other people and GIVING BACK.  Your network is not there to serve you when you happen to be in a bind.  It is there for your to grow and cultivate. People like to help or do business with people they know.  Until that is ingrained in your mind, you will never be able to network effectively. Stop blaming it on other people.  It’s all you. If you are serious about becoming an effective networker, be prepared to learn about the process and step out of your comfort zone. Start learning to hold yourself accountable and make the effort to get to genuinely know people.  Don’t assume because someone knows you that they owe you something.  They don’t. And finally don’t just reach out to people when you need something. Keep those lines of communication open during good and bad times. Make sure you are keeping in touch with people even when you’re not looking for anything to let them know what you’re up to.  But most importantly see what you can do for someone else.

So to all of you who claim networking doesn’t work for you, I challenge you to step back and look at yourself and resolve to find another way to make it work for you. If you don’t know how, make sure you buy my new book. 😉

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham