Studies have stated that happiness consists of four components: Perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness, and vision/meaning. Have you ever considered that the act of networking accomplishes three of these four components of happiness?  When networking, you’re making progress, connecting, and finding meaning by being a part of something larger than yourself.

Yet- networking tends to get a bad wrap, often because people consider it a self-serving practice.  But, if it does, in fact, contribute to individual and/or collective happiness, what’s the harm? We’d venture to challenge it’s negative reputation and showcase for you why networking, at it’s purest intent, gets a bad wrap because of those who do it wrong, as well as that it can lead to happiness. And really- don’t we all just want to be happy?

In one of our favorite books, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, he says, “I personally really dislike ‘business networking’ events.  At almost every one of these events, it seems like the goal is to walk around and find people to trade business cards with, with the hope of meeting someone who can help you out in business and in exchange you can help that person out somehow…

Instead, I usually prefer to focus on just building relationships and getting to know people as just people, regardless of their position in the business world or even if they’re not from the business world. I believe that there’s something interesting about anyone and everyone- you just have to figure out what that something is.

If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of building up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally.

Zappos.com has been around for over 10 years now… Things happened that we could not have possibly predicted, but they were the result of relationships that we had started 2-3 years earlier.

So my advice is to stop trying to ‘network’ in the traditional business sense, and instead just try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward. The more diverse your set of friendships are, the more likely you’ll derive both personal and business benefits from your friendships later down the road. You won’t know exactly what that benefits might be, but if your friendships are genuine, those benefits will magically appear 2-3 years later down the road. “

We felt inclined to share his entire quote because it’s a beautiful depiction of what we believe at Network Under 40: that building friendships is an important jumping off point from which to do business. And more so, that the friendship is valuable regardless of any business outcome.  When you look at relationships from a vantage point of wanting something from them, you’ll be likely to find that you’re creating transactions, not relationships.  It tends to be these types of transactions that give networking the bad wrap of which Tony speaks.  Perhaps it’s easiest if you simply think of networking as relationship building. Stop considering it as an activity whereby you visit as many events and trade as many business cards as possible. It’s best to identify a human chemistry between someone you meet and develop that, just as you would have when you first met a new person who might later become a friend in a school or work environment.

At the end of the day, what’s the harm in having new friends? We believe in the old adage that you have to ‘know, like and trust’ people in order to do business with them. So, if you start from a place of mutual respect (friendship) you’ll be in a much better place to find business success later. Cultivate friendships and the business will happen. Help us on our mission to take the bad wrap out of networking and join us to build friendships and get to the heart of networking at one of our upcoming events!

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