Monday, 1 June 2020

A role for good networking

Even as an extrovert, networking doesn't fit into my idea of a fun time. I prefer to socialise with Whānau, not colleagues.

While I have written about this before (here), drawing on the theories of careers as roles (Inkson et al., 2015), I realised it was because at networking events I didn't have a 'role'. What provided this insight was meeting an American author, Carol Kinsey Goman (2011), who suggested that, at every networking event we attend, we aim to connect two other people. Not that WE connect with two people, but that we connect two other people with each other.

Now, Carol didn't mean in to connect others in a cheesy "Bob, this is Jane who works in IT" way, but using a more subtle approach. We connect people who actually have something in common. We know who have things in common because we have done a few informational interviews earlier at the event. We get people talking about themselves - another key careers skill - then put two people who had some shared interests, professional background, or projects, together.

We were the catalyst to get them talking, then, once conversation starts to build naturally, we quietly slide away to - get another drink / go to the loo / insert idea here - leaving them to follow their mutual fields and to build a that fledgling connection further.

That gives us a purpose at each event, and, once our job is done, we can legitimately slope off. Over a period of time, we get a reputation as a connector of people, which can be very useful in our field. And, as someone from a helping profession, providing help comes naturally to us.

We get to work with the skills we already have.



  • Goman, C. K. (2011). The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead. Jossey-Bass
  • Inkson, K., Dries, N. & Arnold, J. (2015). Understanding Careers (2nd ed.). Sage Publications Ltd


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