Eric Barker defends the value of this approach in his recently published book, "Barking Up the Wrong Tree."
"Be a friend," he writes. "Yeah, it's that simple. Networking isn't a skill anybody can learn. It's a skill you already know." Friends are authentic. They open their minds and listen, not for their own sake, but the sake of others.
Barker, too, asked Rifkin for networking tips, and Rifkin told him, "Do not be transactional. Do not offer something because you want something in return." What you need to do instead, he said, is show genuine interest in others and find common ground. "It is better to give than to receive."
Barker admits the word "networking" itself is unsettling because when you approach a social situation with the intent of advancing your career, it is unnatural. And that's something felt on both sides. So don't overdo it.
"We like networking better when it's serendipitous," writes Barker, "when it feels like an accident, not deliberate."
It's true that, these days, who you know can be just as important as what you know. But if you want to know everybody, you have to want it for the right reasons. According to Barker, "It's all about the perspective you take going in."
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