Networking – the joy and the bain for a portfolio worker. I would argue that this a life skill not just for all portfolio workers but for all paid and non-paid workers and on my high horse would claim that whover you are you need to  know how to do this. If you can the research is clear. You will live happier, healthier and longer.

So – how to do it. I was stimulated to write this by an article in the Guardian Small Business Network (which by the way I would suggest that you sign up for – it’s free). The media  of course love to report the outlandish – like sauna’s in Scandinavia – at which I laughed then remembered that when I had a number of lecturing and consulting contracts in Sweden in the 80’s I was often invited to meetings like this. Some of them were also mixed sex. And yes – I do recall meeting people who then hired me to do more lectures and more consulting. I did the latter with my clothes on I hasten to add!

A number of apps are available to help business people make the most of a plane journey’s networking opportunities. Planely and KLM’s Meet & Seat both enable you to share your travel and profile information with other travellers, and then arrange to sit with those whose interests align with your own. Have not tried this yet but would love to hear from anyone who has.

I have a number of much younger friends who swear by the value of the gym for networking – sweating your network I guess! And if you think I am joking try googling ‘sweatworking’. Increasingly I find that I am invited to walking meetings – almost always by women. With men the invitations are usually for breakfast, coffees, lunches or dinners. I say no more! Fitness First  launched a structured breakfast networking meeting at one central London club. After making introductions, attendees do a spinning class before heading to the juice bar for more networking.

When Mike Scally and I created our list of what we saw as 50 essential skills lor living (in 1981 in our book ‘Lifeskills Teaching’) that needed to be taught in schools we did not say ‘networking’ as that was not a phrase that was in common use. But we did identify ‘how to make, keep and end a relationship’, ‘how to be assertive’, how to influence people and systems’, ‘how to work in groups’. Today we would be talking about networking which would subsume most of these skills.

People who are poor at this or lack confidence are far less likely to design a life and career that they love.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Darryl Howes February 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Hi Barrie,

Really enjoyed this. It came to me via a LinkedIn post.

I continue to work pro bono with University undergrads and postgrads to highlight the value of networking as a means of finding jobs and/or internships. I’m always surprised at how many find it a new, unexplored topic.

I agree it’s important for a fulfilling life (and career – the two are the same in my book). But, like any other skill, it can be taught and whatever one’s confidence level, practice will bring improvement.

What I am against are false proclamations to ‘work the room’. In my experience, this isn’t necessary.

What’s needed for newbie networkers is a simple framework upon which one’s personal style and character can be overlaid. So there is no ‘the way’, only ‘a way’ to network.

This approach allows the individual, and the all important authenticity, the room to shine through.

BTW, my copy of Hopson and Scally (somewhat dog-eared these days I’m afraid) is always at hand.

Thanks again for a thought provoking post.

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