Monthly Archives: March 2012

Why Won’t You Network, Damn It!

As I sat in my first strategy client meeting today, discussing PR tactics and eyeing the Tim Tams someone conveniently placed on the table, the subject of networking came up; or rather, the lack there of in the company. The problem was that the employees in the company networked much less (well, actually, not at all) than senior people in the company. I don’t know if that’s always true so I won’t make a generalisation, but it is definitely true for the people and the companies I’ve had a chance to speak to. Based on this I’ve developed my own (cynical) explanations for networking laziness:

  1. People don’t do things unless there’s something in it for them: as the boss, why should you expect people to network on your behalf? What personal benefit would the staff get out of it? I, for example, love networking but if you ask me to go to a networking event for accountants because you want to me to find you an accountant I’ll refuse to go because I don’t care about accounting and it has no value for me.
  2. People don’t understand reasons for networking and how it ties in to business: When people don’t know why they are doing something, they are less likely to do it, especially if it involves effort and especially if it’s ‘extracurricular’ effort.
  3. Networking is hard: many people find networking outside of their comfort zone. I mean, it’s a bit like being a clown in a circus. You have to be entertaining enough to make sure that some randoms you’ve never met before keep paying attention to you. In the evening. Far far from home. When all you probably want to do is eat, drink, sloth and sleep.
  4. Work life balance: personal circumstances can be a bitch. If you have to suffer through terrifying traffic/stuffy bus rides/cramped  train rides you’ll be justified in telling anyone who tries to force you into networking, to F^$$K off.

To sum it up: People are motivated by their own self interests. ‘What’s in it for me’ makes the world go round. Even those of us who do seemingly selfless humanitarian acts do them out of self interest: gratification, satisfaction, personal sense of self worth, achievement, the feeling of being needed… you get my drift. It always comes down to reasons. And it follows that everything you do should have a good reason…. correction: a reason that’s good for you. So when people think about networking they should think about their whys. And when bosses want their people to network they should think about the team, not about their own goals. Because let’s face it, the best way to get someone to do something, is to give them a reason that’s good for them.

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Pioneering Philanthropy in The Tea Room

Young Professionals Network- Pioneering Philanthropy 

I should really stop being on time for events. Being punctual in the event world is the same as showing up unfashionably early. No one is in their seat, the guest speakers are lost somewhere in the crowd and I end up getting slightly drunk at the bar to pass the time. Of course it helps when the venue is The Tea Room at the QVB and the event is part of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA), which was the case this time.

This was the first official event organised by UNAA Young Professionals Network – a very fresh initiative which launched late last year. Titled ‘Pioneering Philanthropy’ the event featured four guest speakers from the non profit sector who spoke about the way they had brought about change through their organisations.

The speakers (right to left) were:

Sam Prince- founder of healthy mexican food chain Zambrero  and non profit organisation One Disease at a Time.

Robert Purves – President of World Wildlife Fund Australia and Chairman of Sustainable Business Australia (amongst many other things).

Rachel McLennan- co founder of Private Ancillary Fund Service for Social Ventures Australia and the CEO of Australian Philanthropic Services.

Mike Pritchett- director of Trapdoor Productions and co-founder of Kenya Aid, a non profit organisation established to support the Shikunga area in Kenya.

Philanthropic Insights

phi·lan·thro·py/fəˈlanTHrəpē/ Noun: The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes. A philanthropic institution; a charity…in case you didn’t know 😉

Each speaker had their own distinct way of looking at things. They spoke about how they got to where they are and what inspired them to create something on their own. Many awesome things were said. Most of them won’t be in here due to the fact that I forgot to record the whole thing. I did however manage to get some insights down thanks to the ancient art of pen and paper.

Sam (on what it means to be an entrepreneur): It’s about seeing a gap in the market, closing your eyes, having the vision and backing yourself to do it.

Rachel (on different forms of philanthropy and change making): A better description of how people can get involved is Time (active involvement), Talent (skills) and Treasure (donations).

Mike (on philanthropy): I don’t smoke a cigar or drive a limo so I don’t think the word ‘philanthropist’ applies.  

Rob (on different forms of philanthropy and change making): People are no longer satisfied with simply sending a cheque to a non profit organisation, they want to be more actively involved by offering their skills and talent.

The Wrap Up

The event organisers

It’s always great to hear inspiring people speak about their experiences and this time was no exception. Judging by the high caliber of the speakers, this is the beginning of a good year for the Young Professionals Network.

I’m curious to see whether the next event will focus on a more specific angle or topic. It may be just my journalism degree speaking but I love it when an event has a specific focus. I find this tends to bring together more like minded people with the same goals and aspirations, which leads to awesome networking opportunities and business opportunity “match making”.

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