>Of course networking works….sometimes WE don’t though. Networking groups and events abound. With the growth of networking, there is a corresponding growth in written material that tells us ‘what to do’. There are books, brochures, pamphlets and blogs which lay out the best tips and strategies. There are workshops with interesting, entertaining and useful powerpoint presentations by dynamic people who know how to work a room and tell us about their successes. Great! So armed with all this information and inspiration, why is it that when we go into a room, some people seem to make it work for themselves, but others just get stuck?
Essentially, we are looking to forge relationships when we go to a networking event. ‘Working a room’ requires a whole range of capabilities which we may need to extend in order for us to get the most out of it. There is not one of us on this planet lacking in some basic relationship skills: how could we survive otherwise? But as we go through life, we are constantly faced with new opportunities to stretch our abilities, networking being just one of them. Furthermore, some people have developed the roles needed to network effectively, while others of us still have some things to grow in ourselves. More often than not, when we know what we are supposed to do, but can’t mobilise ourselves to actually do it in the moment, this is pointing to some kind of personal growth opportunity.
Networking skills fit in that category of communication and leadership skills which require deep transformational learning processes in order for them to embed. Information ABOUT networking is absolutely essential; don’t get me wrong. But knowing WHAT to do is different from really knowing HOW to do it……like really knowing in our core selves. We need both the WHAT and the HOW. We get the WHAT from seminars and books, but we get the HOW with ongoing development. We get the HOW from learning processes that are designed to confront what is within us which causes us to freeze or run away and to develop the bits that we need to grow.
Experiential action methods, which activate the limbic part of our brains, when applied appropriately, get to the nub of what we want to learn, especially when what we want to learn has significant emotional content, i.e. anything to do with communication with other humans. To quote Daniel Goleman, “A brief seminar won’t help, and it can’t be learned through a how-to manual.”