Linked in, zoned out
Day two in Berlin and the rain is pouring down. I had a day off today when I had hoped to see a few of the sights and absorb some of the culture. I still got to see the sites but all I absorbed was first grade German rainwater. I exaggerate of course and I would thoroughly recommend Berlin to anyone who has never been. Just the thought of the wall is enough to send me into deep introspection.
But before I have a chance to rest on my intellectual laurels, I am going head first into 72 hours of almost non-stop meetings and schmoozing. I’m not particularly good at schmoozing, I’m somewhat of an introvert and the constant tittle-tattle of small talk doesn’t come easy to me. I guess I’m not alone here. But if you read all the experts out there and the fervent twitterers you’d believe that if you aren’t constantly networking then you are somehow a loser waiting to happen,an incomplete human…..a business failure.
Personally, I don’t have a network. But, I do have relationships.
Take two scenarios. The weekend before last I spent the weekend with complete strangers. I did so because in some way or another I had already made contact with most of the people attending, I was interested in them and I wanted to find out more about them. I wanted to have contact and build relationships. Then, last week I was due to attend a swanky dinner with a number of high-profile people from the business world. I really couldn’t be bothered and pulled out.
The difference for me was that with the first lot of people there was nothing to be gained. We were meeting to get to know one another. The second lot of people all had a vested interest in being there. They wanted to make contacts to further their own careers or businesses. I don’t do business with people who are part of my “network”, I do business with people with whom I have a relationship.
Those experts out there telling you and I to network, in most cases they have something to sell. To sell to you. So of course they want everyone to get out there and network. Take a tip from me. Focus on quality not quantity. You don’t need to attend pointless, heartless events aimed to expose you to the hyenas. You do not to spend time with people you like, you trust and you get along with. It may not give you or them any benefit in the short-term, but the relationships will be meaningful, longer term and more likely to bear fruit.