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How to get noticed when you hate networking

Networking is important for career growth and has taken an ever more important role with the existence of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Xing, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Picture: Drobot Dean / fotolia.com

But what happens to those who are hesitant to share their work and projects online? How do people survive who aren’t passionate about networking? And what can firms do to help them access and leverage the knowledge that comes from developing professional relationships?
In an effort to answer these questions, Insead identified approximately 100 recently-promoted professionals in the areas of auditing, consulting and law, and over the ensuing 12 to 16 months studied the way they developed their portfolio of professional contacts and, more generally, how they went about networking.

The results, published on Insead’s Knowledge website, showed that while some had an affinity for developing business relationships and a natural talent for networking, others were uncomfortable with the process and a third group refused to take part in a practice they found both manipulative and sleazy. Insead named these groups the Players, the Moderates and the Purists.

The Purists, the group who refuses to network, was found to focus on developing expertise and making an impact on their industry as a professional rather than climbing the partnership ladder. Purists may still initiate a new contact, but only when their current work requires it.
According to Insead’s research the disadvantages of the Purist approach were visible after only a few months:
1.    Networks were not only not expanding but shrinking over time.
2.    Purists expressed the least organisational commitment and the least integration with peers.
3.    They were at risk becoming much less substantial actors in their companies.

This led to the conclusion that executives needed to help their Purist managers who are still important contributors to a company without forcing them to act like Players. Insead recommends the following approach for executives:
1.    Put networking in a more altruistic light for Purists, try to add value to other people by offering to help.
2.    Make referrals or share your own social capital. Recent research has found that a subordinate connected to a well-networked boss will outperform peers.
3.    Encourage HR managers to highlight Purists’ expertise for internal leverage or to organise an event, seminar or symposium with the Purist.

Read more at Knowledge INSEAD

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