The Hype and Realities of Networking in an Interconnected World and Leveraging Them
What is Six Degrees of Networking and How it Explains the Power of Interconnection
We are told repeatedly that networking is the key to success in the corporate world and how many you know, who you know, and how you know them matters a lot.
Indeed, right from the business schools who make a virtue of networking to the corporates, where HR or Human Resource Managers often talk about how networking helps, there is no dearth of people who extol the advantages of networking.
More so since we are living in an interconnected world where it is fairly easy to be connected to anyone and everyone, anywhere and everywhere.
With social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, it is fairly easy to connect to influencers, peers, and just about anyone.
The term Six Degrees of Separation is often used to describe how everyone in the world is connected to each other within six contacts.
In other words, we all know somebody or the other who knows others and so in such that within a network of six connections, everyone is connected to everyone in the world. This term became popular due to the internet.
Networking Should be Meaningful Instead of Mindless and Looking beyond the Hype
Having said that, one must look beyond the hype of networking and assess it in an objective manner if we are to engage in meaningful networking rather than mindless networking.
Your connections on any social media or LinkedIn are only good if you can leverage them or for that matter, just keeping in touch.
What is the use of having Thousands of Connections and Friends on Social Media if they are of no use when you need?
Indeed, your true friends reveal themselves when you want to leverage your network and a good test would be to try and talk or exchange messages every now and then.
Only if they respond to your attempts at interaction would such connections count.
Moreover, despite corporates and HR managers extolling networking, more often than not, it is only those contacts who one keeps in constant touch that matter.
More importantly, even among such contacts, there would only be a handful that would really help or at least try to help when you need them.
Therefore, our main argument is that one should engage in meaningful networking rather than mindless networking and only when one can leverage the networked connections that such networks matter.
How Networks have Become a Force for Good and Game Changers during the Pandemic
On the other hand, the ongoing Pandemic has been a real eye opener as far as networks of connections are concerned.
For instance, social media and LinkedIn are flooded with requests for just about everything, right from beds and medicines to appeals for assistance and as one sees how people are reaching out to each other, one cannot but help wonder that perhaps, networking is indeed a game changer during crises.
This is the reason why corporate honchos often tell the juniors in organizations to network with as many people as possible so that if not one, someone or the other would respond during emergencies and crises.
Indeed, the present crisis is a real and live example of how networks can be a force for good.
Moreover, networks have also been a catalyst for those jobseekers that are starting out or have been laid off as one can see from the umpteen messages seeking employment on LinkedIn.
Indeed, it is our suggestion to corporates and HR managers that they keep checking LinkedIn and other such sites to see if they can help someone in distress.
After all, what are friends for if they are not responsive during times of grief?
How HR Managers and Professionals Can Leverage Alumni Networks
Therefore, there are both pros and cons of networking and as we argued earlier, networking should be meaningful.
More often than not, professionals and jobseekers blast their resumes to all the people in the network, thereby diluting the impact.
On the other hand, it makes sense to be targeted as far as networking is concerned so that limited, yet effective ways of seeking help would then be the norm.
In our working experience, we have found that the hype around networking is indeed very real and the realities are more pronounced.
We have found jobs due to our network and at the same time, lost friends when they did not respond to our appeals for help.
Moreover, we have also realized that face to face interactions are much better than digitally mediated exchanges.
So, it is our suggestion that in a manner similar to college reunions, corporates and HR managers to organize reunions for current and former employees who can then keep in touch with each other.
Never mind the gnawing feeling of poaching and leaking corporate insider information as it happens anyway and hence, some gatherings every now and then would not really harm either the corporates or employees.
Last, as we move into a world that is totally digital, there are more opportunities for networking and more avenues as well.
So, the mantra for the present times is that engage, engage, and interact and keep in touch, till it clicks.
The power of ones network is as good as the type of interactions and the nature of such interactions.
Therefore, reconnect, recapture and relive the past through networking with school, college, and workplace contacts and leverage such experiences for future use and present help.
To conclude, one can network endlessly and the trick is in leveraging the network.
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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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