Networking is one of those activities that people seem to either love or loathe. I have to admit, prior to reading this book I thought of myself as an adept networker, as least as far as typical meet and greet events are concerned. To read and review a book on networking was anticipated to be a somewhat easy exercise. On the other hand, I realize that networking for others can be a serious challenge with a fear factor that rivals public speaking.
Author Davora Zack is a self-proclaimed introvert who offers up a new take of the way that introverted and extroverted people respond in different business situations. With a background and work experience in business development, Zack explains that we all inherently have varied degrees of introverted and extroverted behavior. This combination leads to situations where most of us to have to network in a way that works with our personality, taking into account the need for downtime, and understanding the various ways each of us assimilates new information.
In her book Networking for People Who Hate Networking, Zack includes a self-analysis that will change opinions on how introverted behavior is mostly misunderstood. Many of us are actually what Zack terms “centroverts”, who have both shy and outgoing tendencies that change throughout the day based on situations, who we are interacting with, and our energy levels.
It might be a good idea at this point to clearly define exactly what Zack means by networking. Networking is not just a cocktail party or a “business after hours” event. Networking for People Who Hate Networking stresses that life is a networking event, with opportunities that allow one to reach out and make business connections based on their own personality style, rather than forcing themselves into unnatural situations.
What’s more important according to Zack are your desired goals or outcomes. For the most part, networking provides the opportunity for making “meaningful connections one person at a time, that are mutually beneficial”.
Some people are better with structured events than more informal activities, and the book lays out the different ways people convey and relate information to one another, and the breakdowns that occur when one style misinterepts the other.
Zach suggests with her easy to read conversational style, new rules to integrate into business events and situations on one’s own terms. For example, volunteering to assist at the event (creating a role for yourself), showing up early (when the event is not too overwhelming), or standing in line (an easier way for many to start a conversation) all reframe the social interaction to fit various styles of preferred communication.
Reading Networking for People Who Hate Networking made me realize that all of us waver back in forth from being introverted during some parts of the day and more outgoing and social for others. Think of the waiter or retailer who is on stage when working, exhibiting socially outgoing behavior that is truly extroverted. Even people even in these seemingly overenthusiastic positions eventually need downtime to recharge and renew. All of us therefore have this struggle with managing the ways we interact and communicate, while also being aware of the varying levels of communications behavior expressed by others
Networking for People Who Hate Networking stresses the importance of being flexible with way you communicate, understanding that generally more introverted people interact and assimilate information much differently than extroverted individuals. Zach does a good job of explaining how to approach business events from the perspective of both an organizer and participant, with best practice advice that will benefit anyone with their networking efforts.
Chris Wendel is the Regional Director for the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC). The MI-SBTDC offers business counseling, entrepreneurial education, and technical assistance for established and emerging businesses in the Grand Traverse Region.