The Secret to Networking? Stop Trying To Network.

I struggle with books and seminars about how to be good at networking. If your goal is to be good at networking, I’m actually not so sure I want you in my network. Sorry. I’m just not into networking.

Having a network is important. It’s just that the best way to develop a meaningful network has nothing to do with “networking.” It’s about doing good work, having the courage to put it out there, and engaging with people on topics you care about — not as a means to an end but as an end in itself.

Unless your scheduling a doctor’s appointment or a session with a therapist or coach, don’t meet people with a goal of having them help you. Meet people because you’re excited to interact with them and learn from them. It’s super easy to tell whether someone wants the former or latter.

Also: If you’re an introvert and reading this makes you nervous, don’t sweat it. Put yourself out there and make yourself uncomfortable and all that, sure. But be true to yourself. What’s the point of having a big network if you’re miserable all the time? None. Think minimum effective dose. Close family and friends plus a bunch of good books goes a long way.

The best way to develop a meaningful network has nothing to do with “networking.” It’s about doing good work, having the courage to put it out there, and engaging with people on topics you care about.

Networking has become an entire industry because, like so many other industries, it’s built on making people feel like they need something and and then selling them a superficial way to have it, or at least think they have it.

Not everyone needs a big network.

Not everyone wants a big network.

And for those who would benefit from a big network, the best way to get one is not to focus on networking. It’s to focus on doing good work and being real.

Thanks for reading! If you found this valuable, please help me make Twitter a good place for constructive dialogue and follow me there (@Bstulberg) where I share ideas like this one regularly.

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