What’s the key to career success? It’s simple: Networking
Thursday, July 02, 2015
In his bestselling book, "Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success," Adam M. Grant writes that success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others.
This pioneering research by Grant, a professor at Wharton Business School, revealed that most people in the business world operate as either takers, matchers or givers. These styles have a direct effect on individual's career success. The book highlights the effectiveness of networking and collaboration versus individual focus on success.
Takers in the business setting try to get as much as possible from others. It's a "dog eat dog" survival-of-the-fittest mentality. Matchers attitudes are tit-for-tat: "I do for you, you do for me." But givers, the less common personality in the business world, help their peers without expecting anything back. This is a rare trait that can transform individual lives and organizations.
How does a giver operate? As most people behave in personal relationships, the giver at work connects with other people by sharing knowledge, ideas, skills and time. Grant's findings indicate that many successful individuals are givers. Givers will go out of their way to help others. Givers are not self-centered or selfish.
When it comes to networking, takers and matchers are strategic players. Their focus is only on what is in it for them. What can they get out of a particular relationship or situation is the driving force in networking situations.
Givers, on the other hand, are great listeners, contribute positively in meetings and give others the opportunity to learn and grow. The givers' code of honor per Grant is: Show up, work hard, be kind and take the high road. Givers create a safe environment in a nonjudgmental form, allowing others to feel comfortable by contributing ideas and becoming more open to learning and innovation.
During an interview, Grant notes a shift in the workplace related to the importance of "giving" skills. Collaboration when working in a team in interdependent situations is where givers thrive. Identifying the needs of others, and anticipating solutions are keys for success. Givers are respected for their generosity and mentoring abilities.
Unfortunately, per Grant, the negative impact of a taker exceeds the impact of a giver by a multiple of two- or three-to-one in organizations. For this reason, Grant works with organizations on mechanisms to screen out takers.
By eliminating the "bad apple" takers, givers and matchers are left. Matchers per Grant are most people, and this group will usually reciprocate how they are treated. Matchers act like givers in the presence of givers.
Kevin Kaiser, an experienced advisor and brand manager in the investment, entertainment and publishing fields explains how personal impact in the world is directly tied to building true and lasting influence. Kaiser's blog post, "3 Essentials to Building Influence," explains that influence is comprised of three levels: expertise, authority and influence.
Expertise is knowledge on a topic, but as Kaiser explains, it is useless if not shared. Authority is when others recognize your expertise, and trust is the key. Influence is described as when "you know something and others trust what you know ... and then it inspires them to take action themselves."
Kaiser's website offers many resources on how to authentically connect with influencers. He encourages his followers to become influencers themselves by starting at where they are. Quoting Werner Heisenberg, the theoretical physicist, Kaiser hits the nail on the head: "An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them."
In his blog post titled, "Job Strategy: The Human Side of Digital Networking," Bob Corlett, the founder and president of Staffing Advisors explains "the new name of the game in job searching is digital approachability." Corlett states the most useful job search is LinkedIn. Through this social network, it is easier to connect to your "weak ties" and your "dormant ties."
According to Grant, Corlett explains that weak ties are acquaintances. Dormant ties are "people with whom you've lost touch for a few years." Why is it important to connect to these types of contacts?
Corlett writes that sociologist Mark Granovetter's study found people are more likely to find a job by cultivating their weak ties rather than their strong ones since weak ties travel in different circles. Being introduced to people outside your circle of influence increases networking opportunities. Per Corlett, the most important thing in every networking relationship is to offer reciprocity. Again, the importance of being a giver and not a taker is the key to networking success.
President and founder of ShinyNeedle, Patrick Richard emphasizes in his blog post, "4 Steps to Networking With Thought Leaders in Your Industry," the fact that "nearly half of all job seekers find their jobs through networking." Richard writes that the power of connections still holds strong even with the vast availability of job search tools.
He states that finding a job often comes down to three things: who you know, how well you know them and the breadth and depth of their network. His advice is to "get out there and actually meet those who hold influence in your industry."
By staying up to date on the latest news and happenings, attending conferences including networking events will give job seekers the edge needed and the opportunity to meet the key players. Richard agrees that social networks are great places for initial research and connections, however face-to-face interactions are best.
One of the most common errors people make in looking for a new job per Dr. Lee Bowes, CEO, America Works of New York, Inc., is spending time sending resumes through online applications. Bowes writes that the preferred way employers find good people is through networks. Networking enables the employer to screen the candidate for work style, personality, creativity and more.
Business and Sales Strategist Andrea Sittig-Rolf's blog post, "Take This Networking Challenge: It's Easy, It's Fast and It'll Boost Your Business," discusses the "overwhelming cloud of 'give me' that's in the air" during networking events. The taker is well illustrated here when Sittig-Rolf describes how these events sometimes "feel like you're in a room full of salespeople all with something to sell, but with no one to buy."
This is an unproductive process since everyone is looking to get something, but not giving. The author encourages people to practice the rule of reciprocity. In other words, become a giver not a taker. "Challenge yourself to give as many leads as you can, not by how many cards you've collected, but by how many people you were able to help during the event."
Since LinkedIn launched in 2003, this professional networking site has grown to 300 million users around the world. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's cofounder and chairman co-wrote with entrepreneurs Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh the book, "The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age." In this book, the benefits of having employees who are active networkers both internally and externally is discussed.
Yes, the old adage is true. It is not "what" you know, but "who" you know that will help you achieve success in your career. So what is the best way to network, and meet influencers in your industry?
Start by following Grant's "Givers Code of Honor" below:
- Show up: Join professional organizations, attend meetings, subscribe to newsletters, read blog posts, open LinkedIn, Twitter and other professional networking accounts and start connecting.
- Work hard: Become a volunteer at your organization, recruit new members, invite speakers, assist with setting up events, and be generous in sharing your time.
- Be kind: Be a giver not a taker, collaborate, encourage others that are starting out, listen more, be available and authentically care for others by sharing your knowledge and skills.
- Take the high road: Make the right choices in professional relationships, contribute without self-promotion or expecting credit for your efforts, enhance the success of people around you.
As Kaiser states, "Every opportunity comes from the connections we make with those who are doing what we want to do. The key is putting yourself in the mix so you can meet the right people."
So start networking. Start connecting. Show up. Work hard. Be kind. And during this journey, remember to always take the high road.
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