Is Networking a Learned Skill?

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Is Networking a Learned Skill?

I just came back from one of the most exciting and interesting networking events I’ve attended in some time – Progress Magazine’s “Face to Face”.   Business leaders, artists, musicians, creators and, many entrepreneurs, shared some great times, with a bit of learning and development thrown in for good measure.  Food and wine were flowing, and with a name like “face to face” one would expect that the casual, open and friendly environment would lend itself to some great dialogue and exchange of ideas.  I was not disappointed! From comics to DRUM to “Slam poetry” (thank you for this Progress folks!) the vibe was real – and WOW!

So naturally, while networking, the topic of teaching people the skill of networking was broached.  A consultant I know who teaches the art of networking, reminded me of the importance of teaching entrepreneurs this invaluable skill.  Another colleague agreed that the primary value of the conference for him was in fact in the vast networking opportunities the event lent itself to.  And yet another woman I know was certain that networking was not a skill to be taught, but should simply remain as the art of good conversation, ones’ ability to show a genuine interest in others, and to engage in some good, effective discussion.

Which for me – begged the question –  can we expect that one can be taught how to engage in what should be a natural activity – simply good conversation?  Is it artificial to suggest that we can learn to network or are we introducing an artificial element of awkwardness to what should be something we don’t over think?  What about back to the basics of “active listening” and engaging in an open and honest exchange of learning, sharing or just having a few laughs.  If that’s networking, conversation, or “slamming poetry” –let’s be genuine and not afraid to put ourselves out there.    Thanks for reading, and for your thoughts on networking and for keepin’ it real, cheers!

 

 

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About the Author:

20 years as a change leader and senior manager, creating excellent customer experiences while building strong, engaged, committed teams. Extensive expertise in small business start up, hospitality management services, strategic planning, and communications/media relations.

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