I have often argued that in looking for a job, networking is overrated. How often have you and I heard someone saying “it is not about what you know but about who you know”? Really, is this a fact or myth? How many of us are in the jobs we are in because we knew someone and we are employed in these jobs because of this person that we know? My guess is that most of us applied for these jobs in a normal way, we were interviewed, maybe did some psychometric assessments and we were the ideal candidates and therefore were offered these jobs.
I think those who purport this view that it is about “who you know” are being economical with the truth. Most people study hard to develop themselves, work hard in their current jobs and apply for jobs and are offered these jobs predominantly based on merit. A study by Lombardo, Michael M. and Robert W. Eichinger shows that only 20% of someone’s career progression can be attributable to networking.
I would contend that people advance in the careers because they have a deliberate attempt to acquire all the different types of knowledge, namely:
•Learned Knowledge
ü  From universities, courses, books, …etc
•Activity Knowledge
ü  Learn by doing
•Modelling Knowledge
ü  Learn what successful people do!
•Teaching Knowledge
ü  Mastery that comes through teaching others
In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferazziv talks about the kind of networking that I agree with and here are a few points from that book:
·         Networking and meeting people should not be about getting something but instead about how you can help someone else
·         Relationships are the lifeblood of our happiness and success
·         You will experience greater success focusing on doing things for others than one could ever have only focusing on themselves
·         People like people who are like them or who are like who they want to be
·         You can never have enough friends or know enough people
·         People do business with people they like
·         Often times meeting someone or getting something simply requires that you ask—something very few people find the courage to do
·         You must stand out and be memorable
These points are not about play golf with someone because you hope they will give you a job but they are about building genuine relationships. As a consequence of building good, genuine relationships and concurrently improving one’s skills and experience career progression will come but definitely not solely from “knowing the right person”.
One friend of mine who is a Relationship Manager by profession does this very well. He is my friend, he is willing to do a lot for people without expecting anything from them and therefore we all would like a chance to help him with something but he got to where he is by being a competent, effective Relationship Manager not because he simply knew somebody.
Please engage me should you disagree with me.
Siphiwe Moyo