Why do we network? To increase business, relations and get to know people ‘like us’.
Steve Pavlina: “First and foremost, I look for shared values. I seek out people who are happy, growth-oriented, open-minded, self-actualizing, and willing to try new things. People who are unhappy, inflexible, immature, or highly judgmental don’t make good friends or contacts for me.”
I’ve tried different networking routes and decided: hey I’m not going to join ‘a club’, a group or whichever else for quite a while. I’m momentarily “grouped” out. Naturally it makes sense when you sport, have a hobby etc to then meet people who are ‘like you’.
Thing is I have a problem: I enjoy meeting people, who are also “not quite like me”. Why? We learn only from someone who is not like us and from situations that force us to push our boundaries and think. The famous ‘point of difference’ comes to mind.
Meeting people ‘you know’ or who are ‘like you’ can be comfortable, cozy and great fun, but may also be limiting. Friends for example are beneficial if they have the guts to be in your face and say hey do you know what you are doing? Have you thought about this? Why do you do that? They keep us on our toes bless them. Networking is not about friendship, but it is about mutual respect and wanting to know what the other person is about and to exchange and learn.
On Linkedin.com there was a discussion about whether friends can limit your business growth. This I found interesting because yes, generally speaking: don’t involve friends in business and if you do partner up with someone you get on with well: get a lawyer in and the paperwork sorted to the max. Otherwise ‘no way gose’. Things can get too complicated however tempting.
“One of the Ferengi (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) “Rules Of Acquisition” goes as follows: #123 – A friend is only a friend until you sell him something. Then he is a customer. Another one of the “Rules Of Acquisition” states the following: #21 – Never place friendship before profit.
In the Star Trek series many people thought of the Ferengi as “over-the-top” capitalists, but there is a lot of truth to many of their “Rules Of Acquisition”. When people are faced with conflicting loyalties they frequently wind up doing harm not only to those they are trying to help but themselves as well.”
Consider for yourself whether indeed your networking is the arena for work, benefit, exchange of knowledge and mutual growth. Are you being professional or friendly? Where do you put your boundaries?