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Nugget of wisdom handed down by Christine Brown-Quinn, The Female Capitalist.  I met Christine via the Georgetown network-she participated in a Women in Business Networking Event the UK Alumni Club was organizing. In December of last year we got to know each other over coffee near St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City (for those non-Londoners, that is the financial district of London).  It was very interesting to learn about Christine’s background-she used to work in International Finance, but last year decided to start her own corporate consulting firm. She offers workshops, one-on-one coaching as well as motivational speaking, and is committed to helping organizations reap the full benefits of female talent as well as helping professional women achieve career-family success. Christine was one of five panelists at the Women’s Networking Event, held on February 2011. 

For my first post, I had to start with the obvious one, the one you’re always hearing about: networking!

I know, I know, everyone is always talking about this one, especially in business school. Christine, however, framed it in a way that makes a whole lot of sense:

Don’t see networking as a burden. It is a two-way street: I refer you and that helps me.

So, what Christine is telling us is….well, that networking works like karma.

That’s bloody brilliant!

Imagine it this way: you have two drawers, one to store I owe U’s and another one to store U owe me’s. The younger we are, the more I owe U’s we tend to accumulate, simply because we are early in our careers and don’t have much power or influence yet. The higher up we get, the more U owe me’s you accrue.

Let’s say you are interested in applying for job at a certain company. You happen to meet someone who works there (at a networking event, at a party, waiting in line for coffee…wherever). You ask to meet them for an informal chat so you can learn more about the company and perhaps make some more contacts.  By meeting with you and sharing their knowledge, this person is taking out an I owe U from his/her drawer and transferring it to yours. The inverse applies to your U owe me drawer: you’re taking one out and moving it to his/her drawer.

Bottom line: What goes around comes around.

If you think of it that way, then networking might not seem like such a burdensome task but more like you’re actually doing a future favor for someone else.