Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Networking to Build a Better World

To be honest, I'm an engineer and I struggle with the idea that networking is self-serving. I KNOW making solid connections is very important for everything I hope to accomplish, but....
It is much easier to do something for someone else than it is myself.

Maybe you feel the same, or maybe you just want to make a bigger impact in the world. Networking doesn't need to about you. It can be about others. I find it much easier, more comfortable, and more rewarding to help someone else than to ask for help.

Any connection is someone you can potentially help with something in the future. And it doesn't matter if they are professional, personal, customer, client, corporate, friend, foe...

So today I'm encouraging everyone to comment with at least one way they have helped someone else through your connections. OR some suggestion for helping others at GHC. I will start with a couple of examples:

  • Got my friend Caroline a short term contract job just when she got laid off and really needed a boost.
  • Got donated supplies for another friend's non-profit project from my hobby supplier.

At GHC:

  • I plan to connect people with mentor-mentee possibilities.
  • I plan to ask the question, "So what do you want to be when you grow up", and be a sounding board for their thoughts.

Please add your thoughts to the discussion!!

8 comments:

Ed said...

Hey, you really put into words how I feel about networking too! I always feel slightly guilty that is such a self-serving tool. You have a great way to look at it when networking it anytime you can "potentially help with something in the future."

Maybe we can meet up at GHC and "network" :) I'll be thinking about what I want to be when I grow up!!

—ed

Ed said...

...networking is* anytime...

Kathy Richardson said...

Ed, I'd certainly like to meet at GHC. Afterall, never know when we might be able to help the other with something.

Just remember to actually meet people while you are taking notes and video of the conference!

-Kathy

Kate said...

Yes, this post really encapsulates my feelings too. I read an article that states that women feel that the workplace is a meritocracy but that in acuality, they really need to learn when to get up from their desks and make contacts in other ways, and it's so true! It's definitely something I've noticed in my current work situation, where women have told me about their reluctance to network.

As for helping others through my connections, I've connected several different girls in my student group that could help them with a particular task - making suggestions of other girls they could talk to for help with homework and resumes (for example). Sometimes they know each other but would never have thought to ask, and a third party facilitates the strengthening of the connection.

I think you've hit the nail on the head and that if we think about networking as potentially helping others, it gives us a goal to our [networking] conversations and makes it much easier!

Sharon Myrtle said...

Nice post Kathy!

I agree with the statement '...more rewarding to help someone else than to ask for help. '.

During my undergrad study in India (right now I'm a Master's student at University of Georgia), I was an executive member of an open-source organization (based in India). With the help of my department, we organized a one-day workshop in my college (which was a women's college). This helped many students become aware of the various open-source technologies/opportunities and also gave them an opportunity to meet people working in the industry.

I look forward to 'networking' with you in the conference :)!

Kathy Richardson said...

The Open source community is a great place to make really solid connections.

Your volunteering.

You meet others who don't think you are just "doing your job", so they need to actually appreciate and acknowledge your contribution.
They are people that you can count on and that count on you in the future.

And you might be in a position able to help them with something else in the future.

Sounds like a perfect opportunity to network for someone that likes to code for their hobby.

laurazavala said...

Hi Kathy, I guess many of us have that inner drive to help others as allowed by our abilities. I used to provide free tutoring sessions during college to help my classmates who were struggling, it all started with one of them asking for my help and escalated into sessions with about 10 to 15 students. Then some friends joined me in my tutoring adventure and it was enjoyable because then we would discuss among us, ideas, opinions, tips, etc. Important to mention, some of the tutors were men.
I mention your post in my recent post about ghc, as it was relevant to my point ... http://blog.laurazavala.com/?p=208

Looking forward to meet you at ghc

Cheers,
Laura

Women Networking said...

I work for a website that's completely devoted to women networking. We have several members and more women are joining each day.

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