“Networking” is Not A Thing.


We had someone new start at Just Digital People today. In fact, we had two new people start today nationally, but one in Brisbane.

The job was unadvertised, and the candidate was a personal friend of someone here.

It’s a cliché, but: “most jobs are unadvertised“.

Like all clichés, it has its origin in fact: most jobs are unadvertised, and are filled through personal connections.

Here is another fact for you to ponder: the opportunities available to you are directly proportional to the size and strength of your network.

The bigger and stronger your network, the more people know you, and the more people know of you.

So how do you grow your network?

Network is a noun, not a verb

From time to time I see articles talking about “Networking”. Here’s the problem with networking – it’s not a thing. You have a network. You can grow your network. You can strengthen relationships in your network. You can make assessments about which relationships in your network to invest in, and which to divest from.

Those are all things. “Networking“, on the other hand, is a catch-all phrase. The problem with networking is that it is Not A Thing.

Without distinguishing that, you will be stuck perennially with a lack of power and clarity in relation to your network and how to grow it. You can look at someone and say: “Wow, they are really good at networking” but 9 times out of 10, that’s a superstition. What’s the difference between a superstition and a science? A superstition is an explanation that generates no power. It is an “it’s raining because the Gods are sad”-type explanation, or even “it’s raining because it rains“.

When you look inside the understanding of “networking” you end up with conclusions like:

  • it’s something that you’re either good at, or not
  • you have to have some innate ability
  • you need to be extroverted / self-promoting
  • I just don’t like it, by nature

These are all “explanations” that generate no power. Contrast the superstition of alchemy with the power generated by the periodic table. One gives you the quest for the mythical philosopher’s stone that turns base metal into gold; the other gives you the iPhone [have you heard of it?].

When you see someone who is “good at networking“, what they are actually good at is a series of related activities in a loop that cause the expansion and maintenance of a powerful, healthy network.

You should get good at mastering those activities and that loop too – because the opportunities available to you are proportional to the strength and size of your network.

In Episode 3 of The Best Tech Podcast in the World, entrepreneur Luke Rowlinson explains that there are two aspects to any endeavour – the capability piece and the networking piece. The universe is holographic in nature. Everything is a made up of smaller versions of itself. You might be a capability person – paid for your technical ability in a narrow field. At the same time, when it comes time for you to change jobs (voluntarily or involuntarily) it’s your network that determines how fast, easy, and effective that is for you.

Or else you might chalk it up to a cosmic lottery and those with more connections and opportunities simply have them because of fate, karma, genetics, or whatever.

I encourage you to take on the possibility that building your network is:

  • (a) something that you can learn to do.
  • (b) comprised of a number of discrete activities in an activity loop.
  • (c) a valuable use of some of your time all of the time.

I’ll go over the discrete activities of building your network, and the activity loop, in a future posts – as much for reminding myself as anything else.

For now, be open to the possibility to building your network is valuable, that there is a science behind it, and that it is learnable.

About me: I’m a Legendary Recruiter at Just Digital People; a Red Hat alumnus; a CoderDojo mentor; a founder of Magikcraft.io; the producer of The JDP Internship – The World’s #1 Software Development Reality Show; the host of The Best Tech Podcast in the World; and a father. All inside a commitment to empowering Queensland’s Silicon Economy.

Josh Wulf

A tech genius, who works hard, owns yoga studios, is very well cultured and has friends who have their own action figures... Most creative - future super star recruiter. Call/Text: 0431 929 675 - Josh@justdigitalpeople.com.au - 7 Days!