In my career as a connector, I notice how a lot of people start to squirm when I talk about networks and networking. They think networking is about ingratiating yourself, being slimy, not being your authentic self. I see that people think that having friends and meeting people is all about what you do in your social life, and that business is different.
In the course of writing my dissertation on the value of networks to companies, I discovered that the business world has traditionally shied away from exploring the value of networks because you can’t quantify them, you can’t manage them, they can’t be put in boxes. This, according to me, is not a very powerful way of dealing with real people living real lives and working in real projects for real results.
And so my exploration began, of the value of networks to anyone’s business.
I am very excited about the value of networks for enterprises, companies, schools and non-profit organizations. The people you know, and the people they know, can make anything possible. Wherever I am given the opportunity, I share what I have learned. I love the idea of people being connected to people they need to help them reach their goals. The more I give it away, the more fun I get to have.
Two design students interviewed me this week. They wanted to know what I thought about the website of my favorite design company. As I told the story of me and my business, which is all about connecting, creating and transforming, I could see their surprise. It happens a lot. How does a women born in rural Australia, they asked end up spending a lifetime in the Netherlands, with a job that sees her cycling to some clients and catching a plane to others?
I put it all down to being a master in the gentle art of being connected. I know, there are people who say: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I say its not who you know, its how you involve them in your initiatives and how willing you are to be involved in their initiatives.
My parents were exemplary connectors. Years of watching them, learning from them, gave me the foundations for being able to step up to strangers and establish a connection, or step up to people I know and invite them to participate in whatever activity I was passionate about at the time.
Why Europe? I had a three-month return ticket to Europe after finishing my first round of university education, and a list of people I wanted to meet in 10 different countries. Two months into the visit I was invite to work as a – you guessed it – connector for a start-up initiative. Why Amsterdam? I fell in love with it and it with me, the moment I stepped off the train. Why so long? I fell in love.
Everyone has their own story, and everyone has their own possibility of becoming a master in connecting. Managers, teachers and peers can support teams, students and friends in mastering being connected. It is part of the pathway to abundance.
Lin McDevitt-Pugh MBA
My book So You Think You Can’t Network, will be published in 2016. I want people to read it and give it away. I want mastering the gentle art of being connected go viral in 2016.