Dissed Connections: Busting the 5 biggest myths of networking

By Ryan Galloway
The Brief
The uninformed will tell you that networking is only for sleazy loudmouths who have no time for junior-level contacts and strive only to hook big names. Don’t listen to them.

Few business concepts are as misunderstood as networking. What it is, how it works, why it matters—each of these basic notions comes loaded with a host of unfortunate misconceptions. Let’s put a few of the most egregious among them to rest.

1. It’s crass.
Sleazy, oily, unctuous—call it what you will. Many people consider networking to be inherently selfish and think that the only people who engage in the practice are no more than shameless careerists. Some of them certainly are; you’ll spot them working the room at your next conference, business cards and practiced smile at the ready. But take another look around the room: They are the exception, not the rule. 

More to the point, they’re doing it wrong. The purpose of networking isn’t just to boost your card collection or LinkedIn connection total. Rather, it’s to forge meaningful relationships that you can rely on—and that can rely on youfor introductions, collaborations and referrals. There’s nothing crass about that. 

2. Size matters. Well, not size alone, at least. A large network of weak connections that spans multiple industries might help you if you’re looking for your next job, but a smaller, more clearly defined ?relationship web? is a much more powerful tool for driving business. Say, you’re a VP of sales at a SaaS firm. A well-curated and cared for network of customers and other niche professionals is the best path to new business and strategic partnerships. The right size is the size that’s right for you and your goals.

3. Extroverts win, introverts lose. Anyone familiar with sales talk will recognize the hunter vs. farmer dichotomy. Hunters (that is, extroverts), so the theory goes, live for the chase and thrive on bagging new connections, while farmers (introverts) focus on cultivating their existing network of deeper, more meaningful relationships. Both have a place on any sales team, and both can be successful networkers. The key is playing to your strength.

4. Only hook the big fish. Why bother connecting with someone who can’t offer me a job or help me land new business? One of the most frequently repeated networking questions may also be the most destructive. It’s based on the terribly wrongheaded assumption that gaining immediate value is the sole purpose of working connections. Yes, those who can help immediately are certainly valuable, but less so if they distract you from chatting up that junior analyst fresh out of school. Connections, more often than not, are investments, and when that junior analyst leaves to found her own start-up, you’ll be glad you put yourself in position to cash in.

5. No one wants to help you. “Hi Tom. We met at SXSW last month, and I really enjoyed your panel on mobile advertising. If you have a moment, I’d love to get some additional insight on that.” How would you feel if you found this email in your inbox? Annoyed? A little flattered? Maybe even excited about talking to someone who’s interested in your work? Fact is, for most, it’s the last one. And yet, people continue to think that asking for help only annoys others. Frame your request politely and make it clear you value that connection’s time, and you’ll almost certainly get what you’re looking for.

The Takeaway. A robust and well-curated network is the most powerful tool in your professional arsenal. Don’t let bad advice and the preconceived notions of others stop you from using it to the best advantage.


Ryan Galloway oversees content for The Hired Guns, a digital marketing and talent consulting firm in New York City. He has written for Business Insider and Forbes.com and is a frequent contributor to this blog. 
RelSci helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

1 thought on “Dissed Connections: Busting the 5 biggest myths of networking”

  1. I have been networking constantly by utilizing LinkedIn and Facebook along with attending career fairs, job club meetings, conferences and networking events in addition to sincere volunteer work with usually reaching out to contacts, sharing articles of thought and expressing help, but still not have landed a job.
    I thought I would have landed a job that is at least part-time at the agency I have volunteered at, but only got an interview which seemed to go well for one position and yet someone else got it and have applied for two other positions there, but didn’t get an interview. Also, I have gotten some other interviews with other places, but unfortunately not landed the job despite such usual preparation with my career center, sending a thank you note after the interview right away and following up, but nothing yet. I was called few weeks ago regarding being scheduled for an interview and have called back 3 times with follow up for an interview, but unfortunately no answer back?
    One of the worst feelings about ‘networking’ and which rubs me the wrong way is especially experiencing when I have met people at events with exchanging contact information and unfortunately he/she not having the courtesy to reply back to me as interest seemingly displayed or he/she mentioning of being in contact, but sadly not ever replying back despite my follow-ups spread out. Also, what I despise is certain people who you usually had a good connection with and they replying, but suddenly out of the blue for no clear reason they block you on FB and don’t accept your friend request on LinkedIn. Why does such a person like this who is an adult have to act like this as clearly so immature and worst burning a bridge?! It is the worst injustice which I wish would stop when you clearly do good and reach out sincerely to another person, but sadly the person is cold to you and kind and personable to others as seen.
    Sorry about above, just wanted to share here privately while I continue to do meditation and trying to go along with a smile.

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