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How To Not Suck At Networking

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I live in Sydney. And I write. jon@jonwestenberg.com

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I don’t like “networking” – I don’t like the concept, I don’t like the idea of it, I don’t like doing it, and I hate having it done to me. Networking is really about meeting people because they’re useful and keeping them around so that you can use them.

Personally, I’ve never enjoyed thinking about anyone as being there for me to use. And I don’t want anyone else to think of me like that either. The whole idea that you have to build a “network” is almost revolting to me. And as soon as you decide that you want to network with someone, guess what?

You already suck at networking.

Because nobody actually wants to be a part of anyone’s network. Not honestly, and truthfully. Nobody actually wants to be there to be used. Nobody wants to have their worth and their value calculated based on what they can offer or do or enable for you.

You know what people actually enjoy? Making human connections.

People like making friends. They like meeting new folks, and finding something to connect with in them, and feeling like they actually care. People like talking when they find someone who wants to listen, and they like listening when they find someone who cares enough to put the effort into talking.

And people aren’t as stupid as you think. They know when you’re being disingenuous and when you’re only approaching them as someone who could be valuable to them. People know when they are a target. And they also know when someone is openly and with a vulnerability reaching out across the void to another human being to say “Hi – this is me – everything, flaws and cracks and all – and I would love for you to show me who you are, too.”

I can honestly say that almost every opportunity I’ve had in my life has come from risking everything by being prepared to love people I’ve never met before, without asking about their job titles, careers, companies or contacts. When I open myself up to people, I’ve been hurt, time and time again, but I’ve also met people who would do anything for me, just because they want to see me succeed.

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