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In a recent issue of the Columbia Business School’s Chazen Global Insights I read a very interesting article on networking that offered a number of thoughtful insights and suggestions. Written by Sharon Kahn, “Please Don’t Network” is based on her interview with Mary Ann Casati, a founding partner of Circle Financial Group in New York and former partner at Goldman Sachs, who has built a career on the artful nurturing of professional and personal relationships. Here is a summary of what Ms. Casati told Sharon.
“When it comes to networking, many people have it all wrong. People spend a lot of time networking with, and following up with, a lot of people. From a productivity perspective, it can be deadly. Instead, think of networking as (1) building a lifetime of quality relationships, and (2) developing a broad enough perspective and skill set to excel in your career. That gives you a framework for prioritizing your time, including targeting people from whom you can learn and whose advice you can trust. But before they can give you good advice (or vice versa), they need to be able to place you in context – to know how you think and problem solve, your skills and aspirations. You have to develop a mutual relationship over time.” To accomplish this Ms. Casati offers the following tips:
1. Pick your spots to network. “Use your resources wisely and attend only those optional meetings and conferences that will do the most to broaden your knowledge base and perspective. Most of your meetings shouldn’t have a specific “ask” or political agenda, but don’t waste anybody’s time, either. Have thoughtful things you want to discuss. As part of relationship building, use the times you connect with contacts to let them know not just what projects you are working on and what your particular goals are, but how you think, approach problems, and get things done, and who you are as a person.”
2. Don’t expect payback. “Relationships should be substantive, natural and authentic. They should be about enriching your life rather than expecting that someone will pull a string for you. One never stops building relationships – it’s a process that lasts a lifetime, and some of the most meaningful relationships are built gradually, overlong periods, through intermittent interaction.”
3. Cultivate five circles. “To be more efficient with your time, think of your networking strategically, and prioritize. By being aware of different types of networks, you can assess which ones are string at the moment and which others are important to focus on.” The first network (or circle) consists of friends and family. The second is the network where you work. The third consist or people in your industry. The fourth consists of people you want to emulate –people who are highly effective but whose skills or approach might differ from your own. The last network consists of people with whom you share a common interest or passion.
The following is a link to the complete article:
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