A lot of networking sounds, in effect, something like this:

Hello, I’m looking for a job. Do you have any openings?

Too many people approach networking as an opportunity to get something they need — usually a job — and when the need is fulfilled, they quit networking. It’s all about ‘getting’.

True networking, however, is about giving. Instead of “What can you do for me?,” the focus should be “What can I do for you?” When networking is about getting, it becomes a temporary event. But when networking is about giving, it becomes a lifestyle.

I call this Lifestyle Networking vs. Crisis Networking. Some of the differences are shown in the following comparison chart:


Lifestyle networkers look for opportunities to give, even when they don’t expect to receive anything in return. Lifestyle networkers expect to serve, rather than gain. Lifestyle networkers find the process energizing, and not draining. And yet, the irony is that the lifestyle networkers typically receive abundantly — much more than the crisis networkers.

Seth Godin had an interesting post yesterday in which he relates this irony to marketing. He writes:

“Now, more than ever, it’s easier to give even when it seems like you’re not going to get. The happy irony is that this turns out to be a very effective marketing approach, even though that’s not the point.”

The same is true in networking (of course, some would argue that networking is marketing). When you give without expecting anything in return, it turns out to be a very effective networking approach. You receive by giving, not by taking. Effective networkers, therefore, are givers.

These are just some raw thoughts about networking that are still baking in my mind, so you may have some additional ideas about the differeces between Lifestyle Networking and Crisis Networking. If so, I would love to hear them.

And perhaps someday soon we’ll meet each other at a networking event and we’ll say:

“Hello. What can I do for you?”