As the future of professional careers receives unprecedented attention, the writer Ronan Krznaric refers to one of the great questions of the modern workplace.
This is whether we should aspire to be specialists, channeling our talents toward a single profession. Or whether we should aim to be generalists who develop across a broad range of disciplines. In other words, should we be high achievers or should we be wide achievers?
I want to tackle a slightly controversial topic.
Controversial because you may have heard the networking mantra of ‘Giver’s Gain’. This is a simple formula which says if you help others, they will feel indebted to you and be minded to return the favour. It’s a principle based on reciprocity.
Giver’s gain is often mentioned in the context of adopting a mindset when preparing for networking activity. As the theory goes, you should not attend an event armed with a wish list of what other people can do to help you. You should instead think about how you can help them.
You know the feeling: you are due to attend the ultimate face to face networking opportunity. Industry leaders from your chosen field will be there. Potential employers will be there.
But there’s one thing holding you back. That knot in the pit of your stomach telling you you’ll make a complete mess of it, jeopardizing your chances of a successful career.
So let’s give ourselves the perfect recipe for handling these situations and make any nerves work to our advantage.
Whether a dog owner or not, you are probably familiar with the story of those who go along to the park and know the names of other dogs; but not the names of the owners!
Joking apart, animal ownership is a great networking tool.
‘Small talk’ is a vital part of face-to-face networking. It marks us out as a fully paid up member of the human race and social scientists have suggested that small talk (or even gossip) is the human equivalent of animals grooming each other in the wild.
So, what better way to engage the other person than to talk about your pet (dog, cat, chameleon, alpaca etc. etc.) and find that you have something in common?
There is something about the way that we are perceived by others when we are successful in making these connections.
So, next time you are out and about networking, why not give it a go?
* The late great John Weldon Cale passed away on July 26th 2013. According to his website: ‘He was a great lover of animals so, if you like, you can remember him with a donation to your favorite local animal shelter’.
** Lily is a six-year old Jack Russell cross. In another life (and in her dreams) she chases furry rodents for a living.
You will be familiar with the heading of this piece if you caught the Harvard Business Review article in the same style, or one of the many news media commentaries that followed like a comet trail in its wake.
During his visit to the World Economic Forum, networking supremo Rich Stromback (known as ‘Mr Davos’) apparently remarked that our labored attempts to connect with our fellow man and woman at countless venues and events throughout the land are, mostly, all for naught.
But what Stromback actually said deserves closer analysis.
We appear to be at a very interesting point where both technology and social media have the power to change the game and take us to a better place. And it’s my belief that, in part, practitioners in the US lead the way.