You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 6 a.m.

The paradox of networking

By Greg Peters

Why do we network?

Fundamentally, at the bottom of it all, in the very secret place deep within our hearts, we know that we are doing it for our own personal gain.

We want to extend our network to improve our chances of landing the job, or landing the client, or getting a good deal or giving us the ability to get more things done. We want to increase our power and control within our world.

Now here's the paradox.

In networking, we can only do that by first serving other people — by giving them control and power within their world.

Strange, right? In fact, if we try to approach networking from the perspective of "What's in it for me?", other people quickly discern that we are "users" who are not to be trusted. We try too hard to sell, to arrange, to schmooze, to manipulate.

Ironically our own attempts to control are what make us lose control.

If, instead, we just look for ways to help others achieve their goals, suddenly and almost as if by magic our goals start being met.

And the odd thing is? It's a heck of a lot more fun to help another person succeed rather than try to force the world to bow down and meet our needs.

So, how have you helped yourself by helping others today?

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