Re-Thinking the Purpose of Networking

After hearing so much buzz about Porter Gale’s new book, Your Network is Your Net Worth, I decided it might be a good idea to pick it up and read it. Within the span of a week, I came across an inspiring interview featuring Gale via my RSS feed, a friend had posted about the book on Facebook, I noticed that the American Marketing Association launched a podcast about the book,  and I also saw that she was going to be the keynote speaker at a regional event.

Part business book, part self-help book, I would recommend Your Network is Your Net Worth to anyone who thinks that networking is fake, forced,  silly, trivial, unnatural, or ineffective … for both the goal behind networking and the rules for networking have changed dramatically in the digital age.  According to Gale:

Social media has changed the way that we network because, again, we have both an online and an offline persona now.  Social media has accelerated the way that we connect.  It’s given us the ability to connect with people online that we might not have been able to reach before.  Time and time again you hear stories of people connecting with a CEO on Twitter or a sports figure.  So it’s reduced the separation between contacts.

Networking has essentially moved “from transactional to transformational, from getting to giving, from going out more to looking inward more, from competing against others to sharing values with others, and from being aggressive to being passionate,” as is summarized in this AMA podcast. Gale’s book provides the answers to “why” and “how.”

In the below TEDx La Jolla talk, Gale talks about the power of connections and what she has learned through connecting with people while traveling around the world as the former CMO for the airline Virgin America. This talk touches on just a couple of the many stories she mentions in her book:

I personally enjoyed this TED talk because I love meeting new people and making spontaneous connections. In short, the key takeaways from the book for me were:

  1. Re-think what it means to network: “The old way to network involved climbing a ladder while pushing others down or to the side for individual benefit. The past was about competition, pursuit of materialism, and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ … Thankfully, networking has evolved from a transactional game into a transformational process. It’s not just about ‘who you know,’ it’s about ‘who you are becoming as a person.’ The new way to network and build your own true net worth is about charting your own course, living life based on your passions, and being the best you can be.” – page 3
  2. Uncover your passions and purpose: “Defining your interests will help you be more effective and will help you understand your purpose and how it aligns with others’, which is vital in the process of connecting and developing relationships.” – page 33
  3. Collaborate for maximum benefit: “I looked at how innovation has changed from the early 1900s until now, and one of the main differences is that innovations were often developed by a single individual in the past, and now breakthroughs come from group collaboration … Life is about solving problems and working with people. Facts and figures or climbing a solo ladder isn’t how things work today.” – page 59
  4. Adopt a mindset of “give, give, get”: “The goal of being a producer is to add value to the collective good based on your passions and purpose … as a producer, you should actively seek to create content, products or services that support your passions. When you do so, those activities will often results in creative enjoyment, sharable assets, and possibly financial gain. The more you enjoy your producing process, the easier it will be for you to share your output and excitement with others.” – page 186
  5. Connect with purpose: “If you build connections with your passion and purpose in mind, the return of your efforts will be multi-fold.” – page 218

Overall, the book is written in an honest, straightforward tone and provides dozens of real-life stories illustrating examples of ways to creatively build your network in order to achieve true happiness, success, and wealth, along with steps for how to get there. I would highly recommend this book!

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