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Why do you network?

Networking in Vancouver … I’m so thrilled to be a part of this community and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and insights with you all in this platform.

As this is my first post as a Guest Blogger, I found myself reflecting on the networking phenomenon. I call it a phenomenon because at one time, networking was something that happened organically, in your community, through your connections and by the extent of your involvement. Today, things are different. Communities are generally larger, more dispersed, and arguably, more distracted. In response, networking has become a focused and defined activity, rather than the naturally occurring result of daily community connections.

As such, there are entire schools of thought, styles analyses and education platforms supporting people to become prolific and successful networkers … teachings like “be yourself, make others comfortable, be vulnerable, use names often, give first, etc.”. The goal, of course, is to make a connection and be remembered. The goal has never changed … it’s only the approach that has.

But really, at a fundamental level, isn’t the ultimate goal of networking to form and nurture a supportive professional community?

I’ve heard it said that “it’s not how many people you know, it’s how many people know you.” To take that a level deeper, it’s really about how many people know that you’ve connected with them and helped them by making an impact.

Which brings me to my point. When you network, do you have a cause?

My approach to networking has always been to “connect” and “inspire”. They define my networking intent and my focus. They are my cause.

I had a conversation with a client recently about the difference between a network and a community. When you have a network, you are at the centre, you are the hub, and you are the anchor. Your network revolves around you. Without you, your network dissolves.

When you build a community, you introduce and facilitate connections that support, enable and inspire a better whole. It’s no longer about you. It’s about the greater good, of which you are a part.

As you already know, when you contribute to the greater good, greater good will also come your way.

So the next time you’re out there networking, I encourage you to consider: “What is your cause?”
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