If networking makes you feel dirty, you’re not alone.
In one study, researchers asked a group of people to think about a time they needed to network for professional advancement and another group about a time of social networking to make friends. They then asked each group to complete the word fragments W _ _ H, S H _ _ E R, and S _ _ P.
The first group, those thinking about professional networking, gave words associated with cleanliness: WASH, SHOWER, and SOAP. While the second group came up with more neutral words like WISH, SHAKER, and STEP.
Apparently even thinking about networking causes people to subconsciously identify with the need to become clean.
Which makes sense for everyone who’s ever attended a networking event. You know the one — when you pretend to check your phone 20 times an hour to avoid actually having to talk with anyone.
You can’t help but leave those things with a feeling of inauthenticity. And pocketfuls of business cards that you’ll never use again.
No thanks. I’d rather be at home reading a book — even a book about networking.
And yet, we all know that networking’s important. As our organizations and industries become flatter, more of our influence depends on the depth and breadth of our relationships.
If you don’t believe me, look it up and you’ll see. There’s a list of networking gurus ready to tell you this very thing — all while pedaling their quick fix advice.
I don’t know how someone becomes a networking guru — I’m guessing that the certification process is somewhat of an honor system. But regardless, they’re out there. And they’re ready to tell you about the importance of networking. With plenty of tips on how to survive — nay, thrive — in those networking events.
But here’s the thing. For most of us, all of that advice isn’t worth the electrons spent bringing it to life on our screens. Because if networking carries these negative connotations with it, few of us will bother to even start. Not until we’re in desperate need of a job and have no choice.