Published: October 14, 2019

“The best networking happens when people connect for a purpose other than networking.” — Adam Grant


Whether you love or hate networking, one thing is for sure: cultivating relationships is critical for career success. No matter if you want to thrive in the traditional corporate employment world, self-employment, or entrepreneurship.

As the future of work continues to change the way we work in and out of the office, how we build these relationships (aka our network) is also transforming.

For a start, it’s no longer confined to Mad Men-esque cigar lounges and bars. Networking can happen in many different places and formats, including on social media, dedicated communities, video meet-ups or physical events. This has many benefits, making it much more accessible to people outside of major cities, for instance, and increasing the diversity of attendees.

If you’re an introvert like me, these different ‘venues’ make networking easier (if not entirely easy) and doable.

But for others, the mindset with which we approach networking is what needs minding.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, has spent a huge part of his career helping people build better networks. He says he hates how people normally think of networking — which is usually transactional and self-interest driven.

He offers 4 different mindsets that people have when making connections, the first two being transactional.

“The bottom level is it’s an immediate trade.” I do this while you do that. The second is like “I will do this for you, and then you’re going to do something for me in the future.”

A more meaningful approach is to focus on building a real connection. “Look, I like building up friendships, alliances, and relationships. Let’s both invest in this relationship.”

At the highest level, the goal is to help people because that’s important to you. You believe in them and share their values. “The best is where we share a mission and in that shared set of values, we also have a friendship.”

  • The bit about Reid Hoffman’s view about networking came from an episode of WorkLife, a podcast hosted by organizational psychologist, Adam Grant. “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” is worth the listen.
  • The latest on Second Breaks: You can use a side hustle to speed up financial independence, but only if you approach it with that goal in mind and take intentional actions. Kim from The Frugal Engineers shares how she and her husband paid off their 15-year mortgage within 3 years and transition to self-employment debt-free. Check out Ep 113 on your mobile device. Or read it here.


“The best networking happens when people connect for a purpose other than networking — to learn from one another, help one another or accomplish something together. In life, it certainly helps to know the right people. But how hard they go to bat for you, how far they stick their necks out for you, depends on the strength of your connection.” — Adam Grant, host of WorkLife


Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets To Success, One Relationship at a Time
by Keith Ferrazi
The bestselling classic on the power of relationships, updated with in-depth advice for making connections in the digital world.
Read or listen (amazon affiliate link)


We’ve all heard the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

As we move toward a world where more and more, algorithms rule what gets put in front of us, it’s more important that we lean into building human connections. And that we curate the relationships that fill our work-lives so that we have more win-wins and mutual gains.

What’s one thing you can do to improve your networking habits?


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on exploring how to navigate, thrive, and turn midlife into the best phase in our life.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.