Networking: focus on helping others

By August 8, 2014Huddle

Helping

My mom passed away in Texas two weeks ago.  It was sudden and unexpected.  She was 81 years old, but a very vibrant and energetic woman.  Besides the fact that she went quickly, there was one other blessing that came out of the ordeal; it was a reason for everyone who loved her to converge on one spot to celebrate her life.  I saw friends and relatives that I had not seen in years, and it was a joy catching up on everything missed over decades, in some cases.  But one of the most cherished conversations I had was with my son who, incidentally, lives within two miles of me.

My son is a smart young man – got his brains from his mother.  Graduated from UPenn with a degree in philosophy and is attending law school at American University this fall.  We were flying back to Pennsylvania from Love Field in Dallas and, while waiting on our flight, got into a deep discussion regarding networking.  I won’t give you a blow-by-blow but it was passionate and heated at times.  Suffice it to say that my son has always felt that networking, the way most people approach it, is immoral.  In fact, he was apprehensive about attending an Ivy League school because he felt that most people attending were pretentious and only interested in beefing up their resumes or “networking.” I tried convincing him that attending a school like Penn or Princeton – he actually had offers from both – would “open doors.”  He was totally put off by the thought.  After a long argument it boiled down to this:  he is okay with networking as long as it is under the auspices of trying to help others.  In other words, go into networking, not with the mindset of how someone can help you but how you can help them.

What a novel idea.

In my heart, I know that I have always attended networking functions with the idea that I might help others as well as myself.  But, admittedly, I have selected functions on the premise of how it might help me.  I know this is simple and perhaps obvious, but I really feel that I have had an epiphany.  From now on, my goal is to seek out networking events where I can have the greatest impact on others.  It’s the moral thing to do.

See son, old dogs can learn new tricks!

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