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Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

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Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby Dave Jensen » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:56 pm

I'm packing up my briefcase to go to a meeting for a State biotech trade association. It's supposed to be a great networking meeting. I've got another one that I leave for on Sunday, a Biofuels meeting that takes place in SFO. In each of these events, I am up against my competitors, other recruiters, who are there in spades, doing their own networking and mingling in the social hours.

And yet, for me, this is like pulling teeth. Or like going off to a root canal. (Sorry about the dental analogies folks).

I have to force myself to network. i'd much prefer to grab a glass of wine and hang around talking to a few friends in the social events. And it's really difficult for me to just introduce myself to someone I don't know. And yet, it's crucial. My business won't grow without it. And it's the same way for you, as a job seeker! You have to do networking, in person and on the phone. You need to be building your contact list. This is an absolute must.

But I imagine you are a lot like me. It's not easy. Can you force yourself to be in the situation? I put my "networking hat" on and go to it -- and I'll bet that no one knows it is not natural. Someone once said that I was a "born" networker. Not so!

In fact, is there any such thing? Perhaps, but a very small percentage of the population -- my guess 10-12%.

Thoughts? How easy is it for you?

Dave
“The world isn't fair, Calvin."
"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?”
― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:07 pm

I believe that for everyone, even those who are naturally extremely extroverted, networking is a skill that must be cultivated. It involves more than just walking up to people and starting a conversation - there has to be a concious exchange of targeted information.

Now there are some people, natural extroverts, for whom this process comes much easier. These people are energized by the adrenaline rush that comes from "facing the unknown" aspect of meeting someone new. Even they, though, usually prefer to "hang with their buds" if given a choice, although it's not as strong of a preference as what an introvert would feel.

Introverts can learn to network just as well as extroverts, and can be just as successful at it. They may even enjoy the process just as much as their extroverted colleagues. They main way they differ from extroverts, though, is that they wind up having to put energy in to the process - they don't get energized, they get depleted.The extrovert would be able to go from a networking event directly to e.g. a company party, whereas the introvert would need some quiet time alone to recharge his/her batteries.
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby V » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:00 pm

I agree with a following post that born networkers don't approach others with a specific 'purpose'.

Job seekers networking has a self serving purpose. And that is I feel that makes it cheap and uncomfortable.
Last edited by V on Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby E. Johnson » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:49 am

I always find scientific conferences exhausting but since I work industry, marketing type conferences are even more painful. As a scientist being asked to summarize years of research into something that can be used on a one page document or a talking point or 2 just hurts. And, delivering those talking points over and over to a customer or a room full of potential customers takes a special set of skills that yes, has to be developed.
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby J.B. » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:39 am

I worked with a guy who was one of the most outgoing and friendly people I've known. This guy was friends with everyone at my institute, from the janitor to the EH&S officer to PIs who were directors of large divisions. They all knew him by name and loved chatting with him. Because he and I were friends I got lumped in with him and I found myself on very friendly terms with everyone too. Huge benefit for me because I tend to be much more introverted.

Is that networking in a formal sense? No. Did his outgoing nature give him a huge advantage when he hit the job market? Absolutely. So in that sense, I guess you can consider people who are naturally extroverted to be born networkers. They just don't always approach situations with that purpose, they just make friends and people help them along because they like them.
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby Priya.S » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:58 am

I enjoyed reading everyone's posts but JB's post really resonated with me. I love meeting and talking to people, and it is not because I need something in return; its because I just enjoy chatting, hearing their thoughts, perspectives, and experiences. I have learned a lot by speaking with people who do very different things and really get inspired by them. During my job search process, one feedback I constantly received was that I had a very good personality, the kind that one needs to work as a part of a team.

I think the challenge is not just making new contacts but figuring out a way to stay in touch with them.
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby S.L.F. » Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:55 am

I identify with the introverts Rich refers in his post.
I can do networking and am able to do it but it depletes me somewhat.

With that said, though, I think is harder to network with a specific aim in mind, such as in a job search, vs just chatting and being interested in knowing people experiences.
Would you say there is a difference in form?
How do you approach networking for job searches?
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby P. Lues » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:20 pm

There is definitely people who are a born networkers, but I'm not it. Although some people tell me that I am... The thing that has forced me to network with people is just my own curiosity. I'm trying to figure out my own career and I'm really interested in learning how people got their jobs and where their careers took them. And that has forced me to get to know a lot of people. But I find this is maybe not the best way to network because I have the same types of people in my network (the ones that I'm curious about to begin with). That's why I wouldn't call myself a born networker. Ideally I would be open enough to meet all kinds of different people.
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Re: Is there such a thing as a "Born" Networker?

Postby RGM » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:38 pm

Some people are naturals at it..some aren't, some become good by practicing over time. Myself, I'm a natural to some degree (shades of gray) w/the caveat that in certain types of social situations I have no desire to be my normal outgoing self. So even for me, at times, it's a challenge. Fortunately at those types of encounters I don't need to be "on".
My mother on the other hand, she's a born natural like no other. Inside of 10 mins she will know a person's life story!
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