Note: We originally developed a list of “types of networkers” in 2009 and were inspired to refresh and republish. It served as a great conversation starter at a recent Business Marketing Association Chicago event, and we think it can help people improve who they are as a networker.
It’s about to be that time of year again when we in the business world reexamine our (now digital) Rolodexes and start thinking about the connections we’ve made over the past year. For some of us that means embarking on an office scavenger hunt to gather up the dozens of business cards we’ve collected over the last 12 months. For others it means finally getting around to connecting with our coworkers on LinkedIn.
We are also going into the holiday portion of the networking season where good cheer and business cards are exchanged liberally. Networking, my friends, both online and face-to-face, is as important as ever.
It’s an undeniable fact that if there is one key to success in the professional environment of the 21st century, it’s networking. So what kind of networker are you? At Tell Your Story we’ve come up with a short list of the different types of networkers we’ve encountered over the years.
The “Feel Good” Networker –
You’re fulfilled both professionally and personally by networking. You love the art of networking and everything about it, but you’d rather describe yourself as a people person than a networker. There’s no place you won’t start a conversation with someone new. In fact, you met your most recent client during a layover in Albuquerque. Your friends no longer bother introducing you at parties – they assume everyone already knows you – and your iPhone takes hours to backup the number of contacts in your address book. You love helping others through networking and making connections that make sense. You’re good at it, and it has helped you and others be more successful.
The “I Have to Network” Networker –
You’re on the hunt for something, whether it be a new job, new business or a new hire, and you’ve decided to turn to networking. You dust off that stack of business cards you bought a few months back and realize you should have opened the package a lot sooner – hind-sight is always 20/20. You spend the next few days, weeks, or months networking like crazy until that new job is secured, then you shove those business cards back into black hole that is your desk drawer and await the next time you need them.
The “I Hate Networking” Networker –
You know who you are. Whenever you see a networking article on your Google Reader feed you sigh deeply. You get it, networking is important, but you’re holding out for the study that proves it’s just a fad. Besides, you can’t figure out where these people find the time to go to after work events and be active in professional organizations without sacrificing a personal life. You show up only to the events you’re obligated to attend and quickly make an exit when the opportunity presents itself. At the end of the day you pack up and head home and that’s the way you like it.
The “Uncomfortable” Networker
You’ve read books, attended seminars and even resorted to infomercial kits about networking. However, there’s a big gap between theory and practice and no matter how much time and money you invest, you just can’t seem to get comfortable doing it. Instead of making that first step you wait for someone to approach you. Many times you’ve found solace in clinging to the “I Hate Networking” Networker while nervously sipping your club soda and checking your watch – and at the end of the night you realize you forgot to ask for his/her card.
The “Obnoxious” Networker –
You go into every interaction with an agenda to make contacts and you’re always armed with business cards. Sometimes you get an inkling that the person you approached doesn’t want to hear your elevator speech, but you keep going. Your friends and coworkers roll their eyes at your tactics, but you know they work – you have successfully established an extensive database of contacts. This holiday season you’re slipping a networking book into the office grab bag and you don’t care who thinks that’s obnoxious.
The “You Should Go Network” Networker –
You’re a distant cousin of the “Feel Good” and “Obnoxious” Networkers. You love networking and have seen its benefits influence your own life. Now you want everyone you know to follow your lead. You instantly shoot emails to your friends and coworkers about networking opportunities and in the past you’ve had to fight off the urge to create a LinkedIn account for your spouse. Some people may call you pushy, but you know that you’re just giving good advice – even if it’s unwanted. “I Hate Networking” knows you’re right, and they probably hate you for it.
Here are some additional types of networkers we’ve heard from you in the past:
- The “Job Hunter” Networker – Signs up for volunteer committees, then disappears once employed. Contributed by Cindy Droog @cindydroog.
- The “Connector” Networker – Taking a page out of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point,” the connector builds bridges by offering up their contacts as resources to others. Contributed by Dick Strassburger @strass.
- The “Networking Makes Me Feel Dirty” Networker – Feels as if networking is a dirty art perfected by politicians and copied by business professionals for their own gain. Contributed by Karrie Sullivan @shecanmarketing.
What are your thoughts about the category you fit into and what other types of networkers have you found out there?