Recently, on a friend’s recommendation, I got my hands on this new book called ‘Does Your Net-Work?’ by Shruti Vijay
While most people would say I connect with people easily, I know for sure that it isn’t something that comes to me naturally. Yes, I have to learn my way and when I read the book it made so much sense, I wish it was written sooner. Honestly I don’t enjoy cracking conversations with people simply to drive my agenda of ‘building networks’ . Especially if these are forced conversations without a work context, I am not in for it. And I always thought that you really need to do that, to build your ‘networks’. This book however has broadened my perspective.
And I now think that as organizations invest so much in enabling leaders/employees build networks, the key to making that happen is the mindset one has around ‘building networks’, because (as this book says), you can’t change a behavior until there is a change in the way one thinks about it. The book helps you clarify and cultivate an open mindset because it is non-prescriptive. I finished reading this book a few days back and here are few of my learnings from the book:
- Networking is beyond building relationships: The book uses the approach of neuroscience to distill the value of building networks. I always thought that building meaningful networks is about building good relationships so that they come handy for support when you need them. The book however, eludes to the fact that building relationship is only one part of it and that doesn’t warrant professional growth or support in return. Essentially a good relationship does not necessarily imply a good network. And it occurred to me that perhaps this is the reason why some of my networks didn’t meet my expectations. There are various tips and techniques in the book that one could use for conversation starters without forcing yourself on others.
- Myths busted: The book has made a straight attempt to bust some of the common myths associated with building networks. One of them being, the common belief that networking comes naturally to people who are extroverts, and it takes really hard for introverts to navigate their way through it. The author thinks differently though and has backed her thinking with science and real examples. It did get me to the point that I don’t have to uncomfortably force myself on individuals to introduce myself or boast of my accomplishments. And I don’t have to show up at every evening dinner only to manage my fear of losing out a networking opportunity. There are other ways to do that and introverts have equal if not more probability to do that.
- The Networking Playfield: There is a framework shared in the book which really makes it simple to practice. Most of us would believe networking is a skill that comes naturally to few & not to other. The framework makes this skill easy to learn. It helped me think through networking from various lenses and I also found this helpful to manage your expectations from your networks. The framework uses neuroscience which gives a very rationalized way of thinking about why some connections work and why some don’t as we would have expected them to. The construct revolves around Perceived Value and Perceived In-Group and I could use it to assess my own network strength and ask myself at various points, do I just have networks or do I have the right networks? The simplicity of the language used in this book and the easy recall value of the various frameworks provided, make the sections that you pass through easier to put into action. Further there are practical questions / reflection exercises along with notes section at the end of each chapter which help reinforce your learning and also refer back at a later time, should you need to.
As organizations are beginning to invest more on enabling leaders /employees to build networks, changing the mindset one has around ‘building networks’ is critical. This book can be a good starting place to see how networking can add value & as this book says, you can’t change a behavior until there is a change in the way one thinks about it. And this book helps you clarify and cultivate an open mindset because it is non-prescriptive. I particularly found the structure, its storytelling style and easy-to-apply frameworks / reflection sections very useful.
A lot of the above turned out the way it did because it was based on learning from practical experience of the author. If you pick a copy, do run through the author’s brief right at the last page and you will know why I say so. And the diverse set of people across different industries, profiles, countries that the author has interviewed only make this book even more credible.
So my recommendation…worth a try, for individuals at different stages in their career journey as well as for organizations to provide the expanded way of thinking around ‘building networks’.