Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Merlin Mann from – Interview

Merlin Mann is the creator of 43 Folders, a family of websites about personal productivity, which includes a collection of simple ways to make your life a little better.

Merlin makes some interesting points — I particularly appreciated what he said about doing for others while expecting nothing in return… a hard pill for some to swallow, but those that take this idea to heart will be well ahead of the game if you ask me.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Merlin Mann: Hm. That’s a complicated one.

I have to admit that I loathe “networking” in what I take to be the conventional sense of the word — to leverage friends and strangers for whatever intrinsic value _their_ relationships can bring to oneself.

Consequently, I’ve always tried to avoid becoming one of those horrible little men who pretends to like everyone for the primary purpose of eventually pressing a crisp new business card into each of their palms while making a vague promise about future synergies and meals. That makes my skin crawl.

Having said that, I finally have grown up enough to realize two things.

First — people who genuinely like one another usually enjoy introducing each other to _other_ people that they like. That’s just human nature. It’s a healthy habit and it spreads interesting connections and ideas.

Second, the heart of ethical and humane networking means _not_ asking favors of others, but instead frequently doing unrequested propers for _others_. And expecting zilch in return.

So I guess networking, in an ideal world, just means you help your friends meet cool people as you do nice things for them. I can get behind that.

But the grinning bearers of business cards who clearly want to put your soul in a Bell jar on their desk? I can still do without them.

Josh: Can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Merlin Mann: No but I will share 5 very short ones.

1. try not to lie or mislead
2. always accept “no” (esp. when people want to be left alone)
3. don’t treat your friends like either hookers, agents, or trading cards
4. never be afraid to dislike people who deserve to be disliked
5. accept that a lot of people in life think you’re a d#@chebag, then move on

–Visit Merlin Mann at

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