“If you’re reading this and dreading another book about how to work a room or hand out business cards while munching on chicken satay, you can relax…” says writer, connector and networking expert J. Kelly Hoey. Instead, she’s focusing on the complicated, rich and often noisy terrain of establishing and maintaining relationships in a hyper-connected digital age. In fact, she even goes so far as to say she hates the word ‘networking’ – an activity she insists needs a rebrand - and that to stand out from the crowd and achieve your goals in the social media age, you need a new roadmap for creating meaningful connections with others.
For those currently hitting the ‘like’, ‘post’ and ‘friend’ buttons with enthusiasm but no plan, she has stern words. No matter how much you use social media and no matter how visible you are, if you’re failing to leverage your connections successfully, then you’re failing to get the most out of an amazing resource to advance your business or career. The key thing, she says, is to change the way you think about it.
For Hoey, networking is a way to go about solving a problem and a powerful place to collaborate within the dynamics of the disruptive ‘sharing’ economy of today’s world. Importantly, the ‘new networking’ necessitates cultivating relationships made with the help of trusted contacts and then casting your net confidently beyond that immediate circle of trust. What’s key, according to Hoey, is that, “those who can cut through the noise of our hyper-connected world of likes, favourites, friends and followers to harness the true value of a network are not only surviving in the new ‘access’ economy but also seamlessly moving between online and offline networking worlds – and thriving in the connections process.”
This book is a practical guide to working in the ‘new economic order’ – where human connection is powerful capital - and it’s packed with innovative strategies to get the most out of your social media tools, so you can forge genuine and mutually beneficial connections. Hoey writes engagingly, using plenty of Q&As to offer up powerful bite-sized advice, real-life examples and stories that bring everything into sharp focus.
From the big picture – starting with who you know and how to leverage your networks in the most powerful way – to the details that make the difference, be it adopting good online networking etiquette (“it’s a two-way street”) or avoiding the big #FAILs of digital connection (scratch those “you two should know each other” emails and “I’m coming to NYC – who should I meet!?” round robins), this is a book for those who want to not only be more connected, but better connected.
Three key takeaways:
- Expanding your network should be a professional priority. Passion, talent and hard work are not the only ingredients for success – an idea, be it a career change, a project or a new business, will never become reality without a strong network. Career and business momentum is built on networks, especially in the early stages, and adding value to and curating a network will determine who gets introductions, offers and all the other benefits of useful connections.
- You can’t hack relationships. Networking involves people – who they are, how they want to be reached and how they cluster, and to be successful in your networking efforts you must truly understand and embrace this. If you forget about the actual people behind the technology then networking becomes a cold, transactional experience – and basic human consideration disappears. A tap or a swipe is not a foundation for trust and does not establish a real human bond – it’s about staying focused on people.
- Stop committing “random acts of networking”. Random outreach is not an effective approach to problem solving, and networking at its core is about seeking solutions to a problem or a challenge. Effective networking takes preparation and purpose – so you need to know why you wrote that blog, sent that tweet or accepted that invitation. Asking yourself why can bring searing clarity to your online (and offline) networking – and separate opportunity from a distracting time waste. Questions to refine your ‘why’ include, ‘Is the opportunity aligned with my goals?’; ‘Does the opportunity expand my network or strengthen existing relationships?’, and ‘Will my participation add value to the other attendees and be valuable for me?’