The Importance Of Networking – And How Coworking Spaces Enable It
Networking may traditionally be seen as a shallow, self-serving initiative.
In actuality, networking is about establishing fruitful relationships, allowing for new ideas and perspectives. The importance of networking today must be stressed. A report in Harvard Business Review by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Lee Hunter posits networking as a necessary and strategic endeavour, not a distraction from “real” business work.
Co-working spaces are a hive for networking. OUR HQ is intentionally crafted to inspire new ideas and foster new collaborations, with meaningful relationships, partnerships and networks at the forefront of operations.
Ibarra and Hunter provide a framework for networking, which may be divided into three categories: operational, personal and strategic:
- Operational networking centres itself on completing tasks more effectively, by strengthening relationships with colleagues; stakeholders in the network.
- Personal networking looks beyond the organisation, for an individual to “learn and find opportunities for personal advancement.”
- Strategic networking seeks to help “uncover and capitalise on new opportunities for the company.”
Image Credit: Top-view Photo of 3 Men in Front of Laptop
For Ibarra and Hunter, managers often overlook relational tasks in addressing strategic issues of the business. With an “excessively internal focus,” managers fail to see that expanding their contact list enhances the diversity of potential stakeholders. For example, contacts may provide referrals and developmental support, which help to work away at the strategic issues being faced. Also, under the “six degrees of separation principle,” personal contacts can take us to the “far-off person who has the information we need.” Basically, someone you know knows someone else, who knows someone else… and onwards it goes.
Let’s take a look at a success story to show us how influential networking really can be.
A case study on Jimmy Fallon’s networking success is provided by Business Insider, referencing both Shane Snow’s book Smartcuts and an interview with Fallon himself. This story of “Fallon’s meteoric rise” is a paradigmatic example of the power of networking.
Fallon strays away from the idea that networking is a type of “Machiavellian manipulation.” Rather, Fallon prioritised personal, engaged connections with influencers, such as SNL producer Marci Klein. Klein “took a liking to Fallon” and encouraged him to get in on the act of creator Lorne Michael’s exclusive SNL after parties.
“Marci gave me a bit of advice: ‘After every show, go over to Lorne and you thank him for the show.’ And I did. I thanked him every single show.” – Fallon to Men’s Journal, as in Business Insider
After some time, Michaels invited him for a drink amongst “a coterie of celebrities,” eventuating in Fallon joining Michaels consistently post-show for a debrief. Under Michaels decision, Fallon would go on to be the new host of “The Tonight Show.” Before this, he was the host of NBC’s “Late Night” show, in which he “made a point of connecting with [Jay] Leno” for advice, an antecedent for Fallon’s success.
“Most people in show business think they know everything. They don’t really listen to the other person. They just wait for the other person to stop talking. Respectful is the best word I can use for Jimmy.” – Leno to Men’s Journal, as in Business Insider
Networking theory in the world of charity organisations can also be applied to the corporate world. Kelly Hoey in Forbes claims that “the volume and noise of requests is numbing.” We may ask the question: is there a more astute way for causes to effectively connect with donors? According to Karen DeTemple from The Art of Change, creating “special moments” between the organisation and donor make the “ask” easier through a fortified relationship. OUR HQ lays the foundation for these “special moments.” Whether it be a chat in the café, or at a monthly lunch and learn session, genuine human connections are profited.