The DIRECTOR magazine has just published its list of BRITAIN’S BEST CONNECTED WOMEN, sharing their networking advice. One key theme is that they generally shy away from the term networking and try to focus on establishing real meaningful relationships and providing value without immediately expecting something in return. I have often found that this is the key to true success in networking, rather than the old-fashioned collecting business cards and connecting only with those who can do something for you – I experienced this first hand as a McKinsey analyst at business school, when those aspiring to join McKinsey were suddenly my very best friends, only to ignore me as soon as they got rejected or got the job with McKinsey – that is not smart relationship building for the long term!
If you understand networking as making a true connection, building relationships and creating value for your friends, you may find that you are much better at networking than you thought you were. Here’s a summary of their best networking advice:
- “My advice is to talk to people – it is the personal connection that matters. The old-fashioned basis of creating a relationship doesn’t change – once you’ve got that groundswell of following, then you can start to leverage it using technology“.
Polly Gowers, founder of everyclick.com
- “Never abuse your connections or friendships – I don’t ask favours of any of them. It’s about creating a healthy business relationship on merit”.
Lynne Franks, founder of the SEED network
- “Don’t be selfish: always try to be prepared to help your network/connections without necessarily expecting anything in return. The greater the contribution you make, the more people will value you and will respond in kind“.
Bindi Karia, VC/Emerging Business Lead, Microsoft BizSpark
- “It is not just about the number of people you know or the mountain of business cards you collect, but rather about the depth and authenticity of the relationships you build and sustain, the depth and maturity of the connection you have with one another, and about nurturing and valuing the free flow of ideas“.
Lucy Marcus, founder of Marcus Venture Consulting
- “I’m a firm believer in building long term-relationships, not simply “networking”. I have been helped by some of the most unlikely of connections and we can learn from everyone”.
Shaa Wasmund, founder of Smarta.com
- “Nothing compares with face to face – so often I have found a real meeting invaluable – but my trusty mobile is constantly at my side. Networking for me is not an add-on – it’s an essential“.
Carole Stone, chairman of YouGovStone