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There’s no more influential thinker on the modern workplace than Adam Grant, organizational psychologist, Wharton professor, and bestselling author. Here, he offers his tips on effective networking.
You can’t network your way to success.
Simply meeting influential people and being able to name-drop acquaintances won’t improve your career trajectory. When you cold-email a CEO you admire with a pitch, or when you seek out a high-profile entrepreneur at a conference, you aren’t fostering meaningful connections. Networking alone is transactional and won’t yield rich relationships.
Attract a mentor with your work.
The best way to pique the interest of an investor, mentor, or sponsor is by showing your work. When you lead with your achievements, you’re signaling to a potential collaborator that you have something to give, rather than just take. Create something worthy of attention. Do something interesting, and the network comes to you. If you’re spending more time networking than working, you’ve got it backwards.
The best networking happens by accident.
Research shows that people don’t really ‘mix’ at ‘mixers’ — rather, they gravitate towards old friends or folks they already know. You can grow your network without going to events billed as networking opportunities. In fact, the best connections are made when people gather for a purpose other than building out their professional networks.
You don’t have to be the life of the party to network.
There’s a mistaken belief that networking is about attending dinners, schmoozing, and relying on charisma. Not so! Introverts can build successful networks by investing time in doing excellent work and sharing knowledge with others. When you create something exciting, the door opens to you.