Networking Needs a Rebranding
Networking needs a rebranding”, says Kelly. We’ve long seen it as this (mostly male) activity that consists in “schmoozing at boring parties or scrolling through LinkedIn” and wondering how you can benefit from others.
But that’s not what networking is really about! The pandemic and the social distancing that comes with it have proved one thing: more than ever we need strong relationships to survive and thrive. Our careers but also our mental and physical health depend on the strength and authenticity of the relationships we cultivate. Perhaps we’ve let loneliness become the epidemic of this century because we’ve not learned how to genuinely connect with others in this hyper-connected world.
Dissatisfied with the business-card-minded definition of networking, Kelly looked to the definition of ‘net’ for more inspiration—“an openwork fabric made of threads or cords that are woven or knotted together at regular intervals”—because, she writes,
For me networking is an ongoing process of establishing and strengthening relationships. It is not confined to a single activity such as email introductions or cocktail receptions in the lobby of a corporation's headquarters.
Kelly wrote this book a couple of years ago. But her messages sound more relevant now than ever before. We need a better ‘net’. As the line between life and work gets blurrier and blurrier, it seems more obvious that a new approach to networking will help us in both.
The first thing we could do is stop presenting “digital” networking as “inferior” or less “real”. Online and offline connections complement one another. The former are no less real than the latter. In fact the two are deeply intertwined. There are so many things we can do to get better at cultivating meaningful relationships, both online and offline.
I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I enjoyed recording it: