The mistaken hope for instant success
I recently met Madonna at the Venice Film Festival. Well almost anyway. I just missed it by five minutes. No, I don't mean a statue or a saint, but THE Madonna, the pop star. You know. The whole thing on the occasion of an exhibition opening for the Venice Biennale, which otherwise had a lot of exciting people for me. Whether Madonna was there or not doesn't really matter.
Rather, I wanted to draw your attention to a typical networking mistake with this introduction. Namely, to approach the matter too efficiently, in the mistaken hope of instant success: I do something and a result has to come out of it immediately. And Madonna is actually just a pseudonym: You could also choose to use Barack Obama or the HR manager of the company in which you would like to work. Because that's how time management works. One says. And networking, whether online or offline, often takes a lot of time. If the outcome is uncertain. What could be more natural than to approach the matter a little more efficiently?
Good opportunities are often overlooked
Unfortunately, this quickly creates a tunnel vision: We narrow our goal to meet a certain person who seems important to us - and in the process we forget that we may often have nothing in common with this person. Because even if I had stood across from Madonna that day, what on earth should I have talked to her? About social media topics or productivity? And what do you want to say to your future HR manager if you don't have the qualifications he's looking for? The often quoted sentence “Everyone knows everyone around six corners” may be true. In fact, that day I met a colleague from New York who had once lived in the same house with Madonna. But it also suggests that we can achieve anything and everyone. Might be. But it is not enough just to meet the target person, you also need a common ground. Many small intermediate steps are often necessary. And that just takes time.
That brings me to another point: if I focus on the goal of meeting Madonna (or anyone else), I am likely to overlook many other opportunities that present myself. And many other interesting people who could be much more important to me. Because the American journalist, who knew Madonna from the past, put me in touch with new, good contacts. And anyway: If my original goal had been to meet Madonna, I would not have been in Venice on the Lido that day. That only happened because last year I met a group of Italians on the Berlin S-Bahn. Conversations and meetings turned into friendships, which resulted in an invitation and a return invitation. Madonna and the film festival were out of the question. Had I had this in mind as a strategic networking goal, I would have had to have started very differently.
Avoid time management
Yes, I even go one step further: In my opinion, strategic networking can only work to a limited extent. If I set myself the goal of meeting Person X (or Madonna), it might sound efficient at first glance. For a lot of things, “goal setting = result” works very well after all. But: Interpersonal relationships are more complicated. To meet Person X, I may have to kill a lot of time with Person AW beforehand. This is roughly what bad career counselors recommend when you give networking tips: "Go to the important events, talk to the important people ..." And maybe even if the chemistry with those people is not right. Which increases the chance that the chemistry with Mr. or Mrs. X isn't right either. And that nothing comes of it. In a nutshell, it sounds pretty absurd: However, I keep observing, whether on social media or elsewhere, that a lot of people do just that.
The best tip for time management when networking is: It is best not to do time management at all. Forget strategic considerations. Talk to people you like. This increases the likelihood that something useful will come of it because there is a common ground. Because the friends of your friends are usually also sympathetic to you and a good contact leads to further good contacts. Because you have fun and be creative together. And because with pleasant people you never have the feeling of losing time anyway. And then in the end you can leave Madonna completely unmoved.
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German edition: ISBN 9783965964747
English version: ISBN 9783965964754 (Translation notice)
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