Friday, December 11, 2009

Networking - things to ponder #5

Mentoring and networking are two sides of the same coin.

The relationship between the two activities are obvious to me.
* mentors/mentorees and connections to mentors/mentorees come from your community
* peer mentoring is a fundamental activity of your community
* new connections are a result of activity within your community
* feedback and comfort at events are a support function of your community

The list is longer and we can all add our favourites to build it.

At a meeting yesterday, I realized why folks keep the two activities in separate drawers of the mind. Because mentoring mentoring is still not widely understood and networking is still perceived as Going-to-an-Event.

Let's look at Going-to-an-Event...
If that's the only way you do networking, you've cut yourself off from 90% of the other means of meeting/deepening connections. It's like only eating brussel sprouts. (you might like them but you can't survive on them)

Walking into a large room full of strangers and told to 'mingle' is not everyone's idea of heaven. (That's why I've called myself "The Reluctant Networker" for so long)
* It ignores the daily opportunities - meetings, elevators, coffee lines, your family activities - we talk to people all the time!
* It ignores the existing connections for new ones
* It implies "bulk" shopping is the only option
* It limits you to networking outside your normal routines which can be difficult (child care; family obligations; personal commitments, etc.)

Networking is a daily activity, driven by your personal goals. Chances are if you know why you are doing it and towards what you are driving, you will have an easier time working through the how-to-do-it.

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