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(Professional) Networking Pro Tip
My 2 cents 🤬 on networking 💩
Don't piss off the most important layer of your network.
Of course the rather long, brazen Yahoo! News headline caught my attention: Chief, the $5,800-per-year women’s networking startup, is worth $1 billion and has a waiting list of 60,000. Some members say the club isn’t living up to the hype - and has given me pause to reflect (again) on balancing the value of assembling an exclusive peer-community against the impetus to scale exponentially.
If the value is grounded in trust (trusting that the networking room will be filled with like-minded peers, trusting that those in the room have comparable professional qualifications/aspirations/networking generosity, trusting the conveners as they orchestrate who is in the room…), there is a fundamental tension when it comes to scaling. Scale = more (yes, I wholeheartedly agree there needs to be more women in the C-Suite and that more C-suite women need benefits of the type a community such as Chief bestows) but more members = less assurance on who is in the networking room.
During my stint as the president of a global business network for women I experienced this scale / trust / needs dilemma first hand - so I’m not just speaking out of my _ _ _ [insert 3-letter body part here Wordle fans].
There are different ways to expand and not piss-off the “value layer” of a network. Creative Mornings does this well, as does First Round Capital (both of whom I featured in my book). Both organizations pay close attention to who creates value and where the value is for the members of their respective communities, then they guard it, passionately! thereby maintaining trust. A virtuous networking cycle thus results.
When the attraction to join a network is grounded in trust (whether the trust = introductions, access, opportunities, advice, peer-mentorship, etc.), my simple guidance is: don’t piss off the layer that generates the value.