Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It
One of the most common pieces of career advice given to young people is to network, network, network. But if you’re following it to the letter, you might actually be wasting your time.
We’ve all been there. You meet someone at a work-related cocktail hour, or at the end of an industry conference, and as you say goodbye, they stick a business card into your hand and you do the same. Though this practice is common—standard, even—I believe this kind of networking actually hurts your career, and you should replace it immediately with a different approach.
I know, ‘Get out there and network,’ is one of the most common pieces of advice given to job-seekers and career-builders. The idea is, you’re supposed to attend everything, make small talk with anyone who’s got a pulse, and, yep, plant a card into as many palms as possible.
But I urge job-seekers to consider how often they’ve actually gained a trusted contact or a promising lead this way. Probably not often — if ever. That’s because human beings help friends, not ‘contacts.
Ignore the idea that you have to meet and connect with everyone. Instead, focus your energy on forging authentic business relationships.
They may be fewer in number, but they are far more effective. While this more focused approach may sound risky, the commitment, structure and discipline it requires pays off.
I have a friend who started a PR business from scratch. At the outset, she scheduled three business lunches a week. But prospecting for leads wasn’t the only thing on the menu. My friend asked about people’s career dreams and talked a lot about the Philadelphia Eagles. If someone had a cold, she checked in on them a few days later.
Now, that same friend’s business is nine years old and bringing in over $5 million in revenue “because she played the long game.
Giving a card or getting a card — that’s just not how anything of substance gets done. Don’t bother. Don’t network. Make friends instead.
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.