It’s a Networld After All

By Malcolm Fleschner

Unless you’ve sequestered yourself in a Montana shack, you probably meet new people every day or, at the very least, every week. When you meet new people, do you assess them and determine whether they can help you achieve your personal or career goals? It may seem calculating, but according to Melissa Giovagnoli and Jocelyn Carter-Miller, authors of Networlding: Building Relationships and Opportunities for Success (Jossey-Bass, 2000), by looking for certain traits among your acquaintances and contacts you begin to identify the best “networlding” partners with whom you should develop a connection. Following are the characteristics the authors suggest you cultivate in yourself while simultaneously seeking them in others.

1. Supportive
These are the people who enjoy your success and offer an eager and helpful ear whenever you face a problem. They share your triumphs and do not feel obligated to “one-up” you.

2. Continuous communicators
As opposed to “networkers,” whom the authors identify as people who call you only when they need something, “networlders” establish relationships before a need arises. Keep people informed of your doings and encourage them to do likewise.

3. Reliable and responsible
Look for people who are responsive to your requests and who carry out tasks promptly – they are individuals who take their responsibilities seriously and don’t offer a lot of excuses and backpedal on promises.

4. Influential
People of influence may have wealth, prestige or position, but they are also those individuals who can get things done and persuade others to their perspective.

5. Knowledgeable
More than simply stores of information, knowledgeable people have a wealth of experience that they draw on to help others who face similar challenges.

6. Active listener
This trait is as rare as it is difficult to quantify. Active listeners listen intellectually and emotionally, understanding the hopes, fears, concerns and dreams behind the actual words. Then they offer feedback that demonstrates this holistic understanding.

7. Empathic
Empathy in a “networlder” means caring for the person before the opportunity. It communicates that you understand what a person is going through, not just that you’ve heard the description.

8. Appreciative
Little things mean a lot. Thank-you notes, follow-up emails, gifts as tokens of your esteem – these are the trademarks of genuinely appreciative people. Gratitude expresses the feeling that another’s actions have meaning and value.

9. Connection-conscious
These individuals have an innate sense of what people will work well together, whether in a general sense or on a specific project. They’re also eager to step forward and put symbiotic people in contact with one another.

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