Granted, the title sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it? But it’s true!
The prestigious Harvard Business Review recently published an article that validates this is, in fact, true.
This particular article originated from a 2006 study in which the researchers demonstrated a direct connection between moral purity and physical purity. It’s actually called The Macbeth Effect.
In the rather gory Shakespearean play, Macbeth . . . Lady Macbeth literally has ‘blood on her hands’ and indulges in incessant hand-washing as a result.
Lady Macbeth’s famous line, “Out, out damned spot” wasn’t referring to the dog who wanted to go out to do his business. It was actually the blood on her hands from the intrigues of the play that prompted that line. But, I digress . . .
Why Business Networking Makes You Feel Dirty
Believing that moral lapses lead to physical feelings of being impure or ‘dirty’, these brave social scientists set out to test their hypothesis that when you engage in business networking — it evokes feelings of being non-authentic (ergo ‘dirty’) more often and more intensely than if you engage in social networking with your friends.
I won’t bore you with their marvelous methodology, but . . . they proved their hypothesis!
There IS a correlation between engaging in business networking that produces feelings of being ‘unclean’ that social networking doesn’t generate. Which, is why we sometime hear someone say, “I need to take a shower after going to a networking event”. In many ways, they’re not kidding!
Networking Isn’t The Problem, It’s Your Motivation For Doing It
The research study didn’t just reveal that many people feel, well . . . ‘dirty’ when they network for business, they revealed an important insight into why!
One of the groups examined in this study was lawyers. (Please, no jokes).
The researchers looked at how senior partners vs. newer associates in a law firm felt after engaging in business networking. They found senior partners felt LESS ‘dirty’ as a result of networking activity than the newer associates felt after doing the very same thing.
It’s About Value . . . Who’s Got It and Who Needs It
The conclusion of the study was that business networking is an activity that does not, by itself, make anyone feel dirty. But the degree of self-interest being exhibited by someone in a networking exchange was far more likely to determine if they felt dirty or not.
Think about it. The partners were going into a networking exchange with (usually) more value than their junior associates. In their case, value meant these partners were bringing substantial resources into a networking exchange — their extensive network of connections, access to resources of all kinds, etc. was much greater than what a junior legal associate might bring into a networking exchange.
Are You a ‘Giver’ or a ‘Taker’?
On the other hand, a newer associate has relatively less power to bring into a networking exchange and a lot of reason to seek to take something valuable out of it — can you help me find a good position, can you mentor me in the firm, can you tell me who are the players in town, etc. These newer legal associates bring more need than power into a networking exchange and, that generates feelings that make them feel ‘needy’ and that’s not a good feeling to have. Neither is feeling dirty. See the connection?
“Is This About Me or . . . About You?”
The study concluded that you’re LESS likely to feel dirty from business networking IF:
1) you believe you have valuable ‘resources’ — contacts, information, etc. — to offer, and
2) you seek to give value to others more than you seek to gain value for yourself
That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
Take an extreme situation. Let’s say you’re playing ‘Santa Claus’ for a kid’s holiday party. Everybody’s going to love you. So why would your role as the great benefactor (Santa) and the ‘resources’ you bring (presents) make you feel badly or, ‘dirty’ in any way? Answer: it wouldn’t be possible!
Now take a different but equally ‘extreme’ situation. You’ve lost your job. You haven’t been able to find another. You’re low on funds. You’re feeling depressed, hungry and getting a little desperate, too. You hear about a Community Christmas party sponsored by The Salvation Army. There will be food and gifts for the homeless and unemployed.
You never saw yourself ever attending an event like this when you were working but, this year, things have changed. Drastically. You decide to attend. Reluctantly.
So why are you attending? Are you planning to give anything to anyone. Nope. Your motivation is to take value for yourself.
Nothing wrong with that. Especially if you’re going through a difficult time in your life. But that also changes your mental framework of the ‘exchange’ event from one where your motivation is to give . . . to one where your motivation is to take . . . value away from the exchange.
The BIG Takeaways!
Networking is a Contact Sport
If you want to network effectively, you have to go and show up. Networking is, by definition, a ‘contact’ sport. Like the lottery commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play”.
If you don’t view networking in a positive light, you’ll find all kinds of reasons not to do it. And, if you don’t do it (or, rarely), you won’t develop this important business building skill.
An attitude that empowers you to network with others comes when you see yourself as:
1) bringing great value to others in every exchange you have with people, and
2) seeking to give your value to others more than you seek gain for yourself
BNI’s Ivan Meisner had it right long ago – “Givers Gain”. Now you know why!
Life is a Party . . . And You’re The Host
My mother was very successful in real estate. Her career spanned 42 years. She threw a lot of parties over the years. Invariably, she would greet a guest when they arrived and say, “I’m so glad you’re here. Come with me . . . I have someone I want you to meet”. Mom was connector. She was always adding value to other people in her own inimitable way.
One day I asked her the secret for her success. She said, “Billy, life is a party. You’re the host. You’re responsible for making everyone feel good for attending your party. Do that and you’ll be successful.” And that’s why I use the phrase, “I want to be a party to your party”. Life’s good. Networking makes it even better. Seeking to serve others ultimately serves you, too.
You’re The HOST — it’s your party to share your value with with your guests.
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