How we see others is a reflection of what and how we think, our personal culture, and the influence of our environment and social interactions on us, the culture where we live and work. Culture is dynamic and determines what and how we acquire and maintain as knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits.
The science of networks pervades everything we do ― nothing happens in isolation, most occurrences and developments are connected, caused by, and interacting with a large number of other pieces of a complex puzzle. Added with culture, we have the potential for exponential combinations and variations in our interactions. It's a miracle we connect at all, but there is a silver lining ― our ability to be present to each other.
Networking is a lot more than a business strategy to advance our professional position. It's also a way to test our ideas, to practice what it feels like to be in conversation with them… and engage with others. It's an opportunity to notice what happens at various levels of discourse ― what we're learning, the dance between listening and reflecting, connecting, and values, and so on.
Oxford scholar and thinker Theodore Zeldin says the future of networking, is more than a device for creative media free-lancers, or a rescue package for redundant executives. Because most of the population does not fit into these categories so we need to expand our definition for a clear vision of the future.
Networking will not realize its full potential until it benefits everybody, leaving no one out. Otherwise, we remain stuck in the rut which infuriated our ancestors, that the networks of the privileged were impenetrable by ordinary people.
Zeldin talks about four areas of connection:
1. Finding links between ideas that seem unrelated ― what you need to be imaginative is courage, which comes from curiosity and empathy, with a dash of experience.
2. Searching for what people have in common ― to do that we discover compatibility, what makes us human, and from that we develop strategies which are beautiful as well as efficient.
3. Developing friendships that override gender, racial and national stereotypes ― all languages are welcome, although I might need your help to understand and welcome you properly.
4. Seeking to weave together networks of experience ― so we can learn from each other. Every profession with intelligent people in it will want to be more.
Networking is a process through which we enable who we are to be activated ― with empathy, compassion, and respect. But it is also one of the best ways we can use conversation as a tool to take control of what we're thinking and saying in real time.
Ideas help us view business problems in new and novel ways. Based on the research conducted by Stephen Denny, together with Dr. Paul Leinberger at Denny Leinberger Strategy, current macro trends capture many of the declarations we hear in current conversations clearly:
1. Seeking control in an out-of-control world
2. Raw (the desire for unfiltered, direct communication)
3. Heroic credibility (the desire for bold, brave points of view)
When we approach conversation as an opportunity to interview someone, we make it easier on ourselves to engage our curiosity and adopt a listening mode. We may be surprised at the quality of the ideas that come across and open the door to stronger connections.
Further reading (please share if you enjoyed this):