By Guest Contributor Alisa Grafton, Author of Great Networking
I’m getting ready for my book launch and pondering the question that has been asked of me many, many times in the last few weeks – why I wrote Great Networking.
As it often happens, there is no single answer to this question, and in any case, my thoughts here are irrelevant. As much as I like the recognition as the author of a book that – hopefully – many find helpful, I prefer to shed the light on a wider issue. Often seen as the perfect channel for artifice in behaviour, the bad rep of networking misses the point – that networking really is about belonging.
Social disconnect is a thing out there. The more we search for solace online, spurred on by the pandemic-backed reliance on everything virtual (meetings, catch-ups with friends and even dating!), the more we feel distanced. The information does make it across from one source to another, the data is passed on from person to person, but, notwithstanding, we are left with a sense of emptiness. We are empty because on the physiological level, the sense of belonging that we gain from being connected with others, is essential to the feeling of happiness. Moreover, multiple researches (I quote some of them in Great Networking) have concluded that the key to physical – let alone mental – health are satisfactory relationships that we build in life.
Not all and probably not many of us are born into the lucky environments where we feel we belong. Surrounded by the like-minded people from the start, encouraged and supported on a path to success as we ourselves see it, is the privilege shared by only a few. The rest of us are left with a void of disconnection, – and the choice to search for our own tribe in the jungle of life.
This is where your skills of knowing how to connect with others come in. And these skills are? Yes, networking!
With that in mind, I wrote Great Networking for the sceptics among us – those who, perhaps, doubt that “real” relationships, the ones that are not based on the usefulness of your contact, can be made through networking. For the fearful among us, who worry about the other people’s opinions about themselves so much that they would rather not face up to new interactions. For the ones that love the sound of their own voice so much that they struggle to hear others, and miss out on the real conversations (“but sometimes that is you!” exclaimed a friend of mine recently. I humbly accept the criticism, because no-one is perfect).
I recently went to visit a close friend who has been staying at a hospital for a while. While at the hospital, she has not been able to neither interact freely with her usual circle of contacts, nor make any new ones. She has described the feelings of detachment and discontentment, and mused on the significance of having the social capital in life. “It keeps you grounded”, she concluded, and then added, “when you are forming relationships through networking, it is not so much their future usefulness that should concern you, but the present-day joy that they bring.” And this is a wide thought indeed. So – Vivat Networking!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alisa Grafton is a partner at De Pinna Notaries, a leading legal notaries firm, and assists law firms, investment banks and multinationals to execute cross-border transactions. She is also active in female leadership and is a mentor for the Athena40 Forum. She is based in London.
In order for you to obtain valuable information or help from your contacts, you yourself must be valuable and generous to others. Therefore, one of the key points of Great Networking is building the right kind of professional relationship – and here, authenticity should be at the core of your networking. The author provides proven advice on how to build relationships strategically, that will last for the long term, and will bring mutual benefits. At the same time, the author stresses the importance of you remaining true to yourself and your core beliefs.