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Network Like a Boy Scout

April 8, 2013


I had lunch last week with the Senior Vice President of a nationwide banking organization.

Working in the IT field, I always have to remind myself of the difference between computer networking and people networking. I’m asked at times “How do I start networking?”

I think that’s the wrong question.

I think the right question is, “What am I already doing that is networking?”

The lunch I had on Friday also included a Strategic Relationship Manager for a large non-profit, a professional draftsman, the guy who runs Live Your Legacy…Don’t Just Leave it Behind and a government archivist for the State of Utah. And, of course me, an IT Manager. You might ask yourself, what would bring a group that diverse together? That’s explained by our seventh lunch companion, a professional Scouter from the local BSA council.

It was our monthly meeting of our Eagle’s Nest LinkedIn group. My friend Marty, the guy behind Live Your Legacy, put it together. There’s 20 thousand members around the world. We get together on the first Friday of the month to have lunch at The Lion House in downtown Salt Lake City.

I’ve been part of the group since just after Marty set it over a year ago. But, I only started attending the lunches a few months ago.

And this is why I think asking, “How do I start networking?” is the wrong question. If we’re doing it right we’re always networking. And it’s a natural extension of our everyday life, at least it should be.

In some ways, I’ve been networking with this particular group of since I was 11 years old. Certainly since I received my Eagle Scout award in 1980.

At the time, of course, I had no idea that I’d be having lunch with this group of men, some of whom earned their Eagle long before I was born, and others who received it just a few years ago. And, if you’d tried to explain to that 11 year old Tenderfoot, all those years ago, how important networking was, I’d have been more interested in getting to the waterfront before all the sailboats were checked out.

We each have associations that bind us to the society around us. Maybe it’s a college fraternity, maybe it’s the local plumbers union, maybe it’s another group that I associate with, the Masons. Church, the PTA, even a neighbor BBQ, all of them are opportunities for networking.

But, the worst thing to do is think, “I’m going to go “network” at the lodge tonight.” If you’re approaching your interactions with people like that, they will very quickly see through you. Instead, get involved with an organization that you feel passionate about, or at least one that you enjoy the associating with the members, and let the networking happen as you lose yourself in promoting the organization’s goals.

In other words, network like a Boy Scout.

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