NEVER Network Again: The Art of Un- Networking


—by Karen Donaldson

Networking is dead. It doesn’t work. The days of firehosing and spitting out every single detail, award and certification in 30 seconds or less are over. If you think this type of networking works, if you are stilling doing it – stop! Immediately. The bottom line: no one cares that much about you, well, besides you and your parents.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of networking is:

1: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business

We are moving away from the first point of a straight exchange of information (un-networking) and focusing on the second part: cultivation of productive relationships.  It’s about connecting. I call it the ABC’s: Always Be Connecting. Not Always Be Closing with your 30-second elevator pitch.

If you’re going into a networking setting with a mindset to quickly get through as many people as possible and get as many cards as possible, then you’ll attract the exact same people to you. They’ll be trying to go through the numbers just as fast or even faster than you. It almost feels like a competition.

When you collect lots of cards, at the end of night do you really remember each person who gave it to you? What is your follow-up with each person? Nine times out of ten, nothing meaningful happens from the connection. Sounds familiar? (Where is your deck of business cards and are they just gathering dust?).

In a networking setting, you need to stop being the giver. What I mean by that is stop trying to give your pitch to everyone in the room. Focus on being a receiver and a relationship builder. Genuinely ask about the other person and their business, the type of clients they are looking for and how you can help. Choose to stand out from the typical: my name is … I do x-y-z verbal diarrhoea.

The goal of “un-networking” is to meet people in a genuine way, be your unique self, build rapport and get permission to connect with them outside of the networking session.

Who you are “being” is exactly who you will attract. Be the person you would hire, be the person you would love to send referrals to, be the person you would welcome the opportunity to work with.

Let me set the stage for you: If you had a company in which you were the CEO, and you were hiring for the role of COO, what would you expect and want from that person. Make a list of those attitudes, attributes, personality traits and skill sets.

Now ask yourself:   Are you that person?

Because…if you wouldn’t work with, refer or hire YOU, neither will anyone else.

Here are the 3 steps that you can take to un-network:

  1. Go in with a plan. A plan that consists of connecting with a handful of people instead of everyone. It’s easy to remember someone who engaged you in a meaningful conversation opposed to remembering your 15th shallow conversation.
  2. Ask open-ended questions instead of closed ones. Open-ended questions allow for deeper answers with more detail.
  3. Only take the other person’s card if you’re going to use it. When I say use it, I mean use it for yourself or to give it to someone else to forward as a referral.

Now the ball is in your court, it’s time to use what I’ve shared and master the art of un-networking.

Karen Donaldson is an award-winning, #1 multi Best Selling Author. She is also the owner of Karen Donaldson Inc., and the brands Speak and Get Booked and Speak Confident. She is a Certified Confidence Coach, Communication and Body Language Expert, Executive Public Speaking Coach and International Speaker. Karen has been speaking and coaching for over 20 years, showing individuals exactly how to take powerful action and own their voice, increase their impact and confidence whenever they speak. She is the secret weapon behind many CEO’s, senior executives, successful entrepreneurs and politicians across North America and the UK, as she guides them and helps them to increase their capacity to authentically connect and engage as they lead and communicate. With her dynamic and interactive style as an expert speaker and coach, she moves her audience and clients into action and shows any “ready and willing” individual, how to become that leader who knows how to connect, engage and empower themselves and others. Karen has been a guest expert on both local and national media and is a sought-after leader and certified expert in her industry.