While I would not claim to be a professional networker, I do have a pretty strong opinion about what works, and wondering if there is any real research on the best approach to networking.
My current belief is that effective networking is based on:
- Focusing on breadth, not depth; meaning having more connections is better than having a few very depth relationships. To be clear, I'm not saying depth in relationships is not important, just that when it comes to executing a networking strategy that focusing on breadth over depth is more productive.
- Always establish a connection based on the other parties interests, motivations, preferences, activities, etc. The only exception to this would be if you were hosting an event, or if you were approached by them; but really in both of those cases it's still them expressing their needs.
- Make their current needs result in them needing to reply to you.
- Once a relationship is established, then realign the parties interests, motivations, preferences, activities, etc as needed using the response benchmarks measured before the attempt to realign the nature of the relationship.
Is there any research that would validate, or dispute, the above approach to professional networking?
Re: What constitutes a connection? (JB King): A "breadth strategy" is a networking strategy that results in connections that enable meaningful responses to requests using the most minimal effort required, but still allows the total number of connections to grow. Types of connections included: to (one-to-one/many), with (many-to-one/many), through (request-is-passed-on-to-one/many).
Re: "How to Win Friends & Influence People" (normalocity): Agree, in fact the wiki-summary for it appears to be well done; though I've read the book before, it would be worth rereading. That said, the objective of the question is not find subjective opinion on the subject no matter how popular/sound it may seem, but to find research that validates, or disputes, the approach; in fact, Carnegie's version to be honest sounds a little more friendly than mine, though I might add it does not focus on the importance breadth over depth, which to me is key to the question. Also, it does not use the benchmarks during the "onboarding phase" to evaluate the effect of the attempt to realign the nature of the relationship if needed.