Whenever I talk or give a lecture about networking, I almost always remember to tell my audience (students) that there are generally 4 kinds of a networker (i) the one that knows a lot of people and that a lot of people know, (ii) the one that knows a lot of people and that few people know, (iii) the one that knows few people and that a lot of people know, and (iv) the one that knows few people and few people know.
In fact, I base my taxonomy of networkers on a saying which I got a long while ago and which goes ‘To be successful, it is not what you know. It is who you know and who knows you’.
Disturbing Fact One: it is both who you know and who knows you.
Believe me or not, many people think of networking or building friendship is about knowing people only. This might have been true and workable in the past. But it doesn’t work in this era anymore since the art or science of networking has become so easy, thus making people so cunning about choosing quality rather than quantity of friendships.
Thanks to online applications such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and/or the like, you are able to get to know many people from all around the world through a couple of clicks. If you are an inexperienced online friend-maker, you might consider these people—whom you have never even met face-to-face—your friends, but if you are an experienced one, you are surely very careful with these people unless you have seen or known them in real life.
In fact, problem associated with online friend-making is not something quite new nor alien. You might also have heard a lot about it. For instance, someone in your friend’s friend-list publicly shared sensitive photos of him/her. Or, one of your thought-to-be online friends might have told your secrets—posted online—to other people who should not have known at all.
In a nutshell, never ever believe that you can create a strongly binding friendship with someone that you know without having yourself known to that person. Also try to find out how much that person knows and feels about you. If it is just a one-side game, be alert and careful because you might face with consequences when the person turns against you.
Disturbing Fact Two: you and I tend to socialize with those similar to or below us.
Let do me a favor by counting the number of people with whom you regularly socialize. 10 or 20? The number is not important because what I want you to do is divide your peers into two groups—one group consists of those you think are generally better than you and the other is comprised of those you think are generally similar to or worse than you. By ‘better’, ‘similar’ or ‘worse’, you can refer to any life aspect, be it physical, emotional, financial, intellectual, educational, social, and etc.
Now that you have completed separating them, I want you to count as to see which group contains more people. Without looking at your number and supposed you were like most people, I dare to say that you have more people in the latter group: those who are generally similar to or worse than you. Don’t be surprised that I know it because it is just the ways it is—people generally socialize closely with those who are similar or worse than they are.
I consider this a disturbing fact of networking because the network that we build with people similar to or worse than we are is able to console and comfort our soul only; it can’t help us solve our problem. The logic here is very simple: only those better than us can help us. For example, if you don’t have enough money to buy a car, you’ve got to borrow it from people who have it and can’t borrow from people who don’t have it at all.
To solve this problem, many self-proclaimed Personal Development gurus have suggested people to expand their cycle of network. In other words, you should try or learn to talk to and get to know people on a regular basis, go to new places that you have never been before as to see new people, and attend networking events as to know people better than you.
Disturbing Fact Three: those who do not need it get while those who need it don’t.
Believe me or not, networking is rather a ridiculously ironic thing. Usually, it happens to those who do not want it while it doesn’t happen to who need it. Let me illustrate this point based on my personal experience.
September 2006 was the whole month that I spent to cure a wound around the area of my right knee after getting shot in a gang fight. Never in my life had I ever needed people to comfort my soul more than that time. Because my leg was badly hurt and I could not get out from my house, I had to stay at home and do nothing besides watching TV. Honest to god, I badly wanted people especially relatives and friends to visit me, but very few did. If I had not been mistaken, no one would have wanted to come and see a wounded gangster like me. I was just too bad to be socialized with, and not many people wanted to be with me.
However, today that I am able to accomplish many things almost singlehandedly, I can say with confidence that there are many people who want to be my friend and know about me. I may sound like I am boasting and I am completely aware that I am not a celebrity, but there are actually people (I don’t want to be specific) trying to be nice to and be friend with me. I often feel annoyed by these people texting or calling me, but they still keep doing it despite the fact that I show them my annoyance.
If you closely observe the reality in our society, disturbing fact 3 of networking really happens. For instance, a friend of yours who is not blessed with natural beauty is probably being isolated and wants friends so badly, but very few people want to play with him/her. Yet, you may have another friend who is good-looking and who gets surrounded with a great number of people more than he/she can accept.
To end this article, I want to caution you that networking is a big lesson to learn. It takes time and experience to become a good networker. But, once you succeed, you get an abundance of benefits.
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