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Posted on Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 6 a.m.

'Positional networking' is working without a net

By Greg Peters

A lot of people are walking around out there who think they have wide-reaching and deep networks. Their position in their company places them in regular contact with a wide variety of people who know them and are always happy to say hello. What they don't realize is that their network is full of holes and if they should fall from the high-wire, that net is about as likely to hold as a spider's web.

But wait a minute! They know so many people. How can that be?

The problem is, they think they know those people and, worse, they think those other people know them. In reality, the relationship is based almost completely on the person's position. Everyone knows Barb, the office manager, but no one knows Barb, the amateur photographer who caught some great shots of Denali last year. Everyone knows George, the accountant, but no one knows George, the grandfather of two bright boys, the elder of whom was the lead in the school play.

Until Barb and George make the effort to extend the relationship beyond their positions — to make it a personal relationship, instead of a positional one, the strength of the relationship only lasts as long as the position does. In decades past, when people stayed in their jobs for their entire working life, positional relationships were really all you needed.

Today though, most people want a stronger net than that, because everyone's career is walking on the high-wire these days.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to