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Changing the Practice of Networking

by on January 5, 2010

There was a recent Twitter posting by the Harvard Business Review linked to a blog entry about “Networking Reconsidered” and how people should begin to reconsider the changes happening to “classical” networking that have in part come about because of social networking.  John Hagel III and John Seely Brown write how the newest evolution of networking is being built upon “long-term trust based relationships” that are critical for accessing the tacit knowledge (knowledge often based on experience). Networking no longer is just about “reaching out”, but developing an ability to “attract”.

The new style of networking Hagel and Brown discuss is described as a learning disposition, which “requires intense curiosity, deep listening and empathy that seeks to understand the context that other person is operating in.” Multiple two-way interactions lead to two-way learning. The reciprocal nature of this type of nature is considered key to building the long-term trust and relationships at the center of this new kind of networking.

The other key distinctions that Hagel and Brown make about how this learning disposition is different from classical networking is “the most powerful way to identify promising people is to find ways to attract others to you who have relevant knowledge and a common ground in the sense of similar issues they are addressing.”

“At the institutional level, we need to be innovative in defining the institutional arrangements that will help to foster and amplify these individual practices.”

I find this topic to be extremely interesting and relevant to the area of management as we have read about so far. Thoughts or comments about how you’ve seen/experienced the practice of networking change?

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  1. Surry Jones permalink

    Many companies these days have set up alumni networks for “corporate social networking” — these are used to tap into an already-trained pool of candidates for possible hire and re-connecting. The big advantage is less time and money spent on ramping up future employees and the tacit knowledge from past experience with the company is already built-in. With last year’s lay-offs, however, these were likely a sensitive subject.

  2. Jordan Eschler permalink

    One of the best networkers I know (my contract manager at BoA) is also one of the most curious people I have ever met. He not only asks an individual what she does when he meets her, but takes the time to ask her about current issues within her industry.

    The quality of his responses has taught me a lot about giving signals to a person that you are not only listening for ‘keywords’ when networking, but you are really thinking about what she is saying. Seems obvious, but I still try to work on asking better questions when I meet someone casually. And by all means, add the person on Facebook or LinkedIn etc etc

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