A personal journey
I’m a born networker, it comes easily to me, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s when “networking” became something of a buzz word that I realised I had a powerful skill.
People began to say things like:
- How do you know so many people?
- How do you keep in touch with everyone?
- You’re a fantastic networker, how do you do it?
- Can you help me become a better networker?
I could answer the first and second questions, but I really didn’t know how I did it, let alone help someone else improve their networking skills.
Understanding “how” to be an effective networker
I discovered that networking was something social scientists studied and I began to read up on the subject from an academic point of view.
Next, I asked an experience NLP Practitioner to analyse the personal skills, behaviours and underpinning values that enabled me to be what others described “a highly effective networker” and together we developed a model of networking excellence. Our next task was to test this model by interviewing other “great networkers”. We were both delighted to find it was robust and provided a valuable Framework of Excellence which could help others to become more effective networkers.
For many, networking has negative connotations – schmoozing, superficial, glad-handing, insincere, not very ‘British’. I needed to reframe it as something positive.
My definition took some time to develop. It has lasted both the test of time and has enabled many reluctant and sceptical networkers to accept effective networking as a force for good and help them develop their skills and personal network of relationships. Every single word has equal importance, but the three that really stand out for me are Process, Relationships, Opportunities.