Networking is an essential part of your career and business. However, a lot of people struggle to network. Networking is leveraging your business and personal connections to progress, gain knowledge or acquire a regular supply of new business. The concept of networking sounds simple. Don’t be fooled, it involves relationship building, it can be a deceptively complex process.

Business Networking

To help you to navigate the complex world of networking, see the article below on the seven laws of networking by Dick van Vlooten

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Ever been to a reception following a talk or a meeting and felt it was a dreadful display of people begging to each other while pretending to be best friends? To be fair, most of the people present were probably friends. But, during these gatherings people too often forget about the seventh law of networking: the paradox of profit. In other words, the fact is you have to give first in order to receive. And when I say you should give, I mean freely, without the hidden intention to get anything in return. This will get you further in the end. Read on to see how you can implement the paradox of profit in your own life.

Those who have given also receive.

The paradox of profit is far from being a new concept–just open a Bible and you?ll find it: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance” (Matthew 25:29). This is still true, maybe even more so today in our network-based society than 2000 years ago. Give to your social networks, and you will be given valuable pieces of information and ideas, but also personal tips, moral support, and any other kind of help. Giving without demanding or even expecting anything in return is in actual fact the only way to benefit from a network.

Why is that?

Consider the three driving forces behind the paradox of profit:

1. Reciprocity

2. The network effect

3. Reputation

1. Reciprocity: Trading support

Of all the forces, this is the simplest one: If you give to someone, however little this may be, you are bound to get something back. Look at Figure 1: A gives support to B, and therefore B will return the favour to A in his or her own ways. Barry Wellman and Kenneth Frank1 looked at 845 adults in Toronto, Canada, and the way they were trading support within their own networks.

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Figure 1. Mutual support interaction

Their conclusions regarding reciprocity were that women tend to give back with moral support, friends at work with day-to-day professional support, and close friends with both everyday and emergency support. Everyday support is more like giving an idea, a helping hand, a listening ear, a tip. Emergency support is, for instance, bringing someone home when his or her car is broken or lending a person a considerable amount of money to get a business started. This is no big surprise, but stick around and let me tell you about the network effect.

2. The network effect

Part 1: When knowing each other also means helping each other

Could social networks have an intrinsic quality that calls for support without demanding reciprocity? In other words, when it comes to getting help, does it make any difference if you are in a clique or simply trading support as you would in a reciprocity scenario? Wellman and Kenneth came to the following conclusion: “The data show that an alter who has many ties with other members of an ego?s network is considerably more likely to provide everyday support to this ego and marginally more likely to provide emergency support.”

The word “alter” stands for somebody other than the examined person, whereas the word “ego” means the examined person in question. We will skip to our usual A, B, C and so forth.

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Figure 2. Giving support in a network

OK, let me explain what this all means in plain English. Let?s say that A in Figure 2 is the alter. She knows B, C, and D, and she also knows the ego, E. Wellman and Frank found that C will naturally give more support to E than would for instance F, who only knows E in this network.

Wellman and Franck concluded that those who have personal connections in common feel a stronger bond and are thus more likely to be supportive of each other.

Now this is nice, and it gets even nicer in the second part!

Part 2: When giving is getting

While it does help to know people to get support, would investing time and effort in your network turn it into an even more supportive one? In other words, if you give support only to certain people within your network, are you likely to receive support from other individuals from that very network? The most interesting conclusion of Wellman and Frank?s research, in my opinion, provides the answer to this question: “Egos who have provided emergency support to many alters are more likely to receive emergency support from a given alter.”

Read more …

By Dick van Vlooten

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