Networking: Givers, Takers, and Matchers

Networking in today’s world may be more important than it has ever been. It’s no longer enough to stay heads down, working in your silo. It’s important that you take a broad perspective and you start building a bigger network.

Work no longer gets done in a vacuum. It gets done through a multi-layered and complex web of individuals and entanglements. At the heart of that web lies both personal relationships and interactions.

There’s a great new book out by Adam Grant from Wharton, called Give and Take. I’m not going to go into all of the detail here, suffice to say, it’s a great book by a great young mind. But he talks about the interpersonal dynamics and creates a view of three types of people. Givers, takers and those in the middle, the matchers.

The givers are the people who would do anything to help a colleague, a friend and even a stranger. Takers, as the name implies, are those that take from others. They view relationships based on what they can get out o them. They look to impress influencers and they trample on those they see as less influential.

And then, there are matchers. They are the people in the middle. Those who may have been burned as a giver or a reformed taker. They look at relationships in some ways as transactional. They do for you, you do for them.

What Adam found is that within this integrated network we are operating in one of three ways to get work done, to gain recognition, to grow our status, etc. The biggest takeaway for me is that it’s actually the givers, with the right guard rails in place, that make the most effective employee in today’s world.

They are the ones outperforming their peers, they are the ones using their relationships to help navigate complex organizational structures and they are the ones who have learned a key dynamic of interpersonal relationship building.

Givers are willing to pay options forward. At all times. They stop asking for help for themselves (within reason), instead, they look for ways to help others through others in their network. They constantly look for opportunities to bring people together, they look for ways to network people across boundaries, across function and they help put together teams that can solve problems or launch initiatives.

As the world grows more integrated, more complex, and the pace of work continues to accelerate, you’ll need to learn how to navigate. Work can’t be done alone anymore. In fact, the definition of work continues to change. What does not change, is the fact that people need people.

So take a moment to reflect, and think about in which style describes your current networking style. Better yet, ask yourself which style should be your current networking style.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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