Networking is what we do so it is surprising that we have not written an article about it. So here goes – our explanation of the term and how we employ it.
A new definition of networking
Networking is a term used widely but with different meanings. The ambiguity is because it comprises two paradoxical elements, a “social” (fun) one, and a more serious “work” side, namely meeting people who are useful to you.
Networking is defined as meeting many people outside office hours, at cocktails and dinners.Like at all such gatherings, there is a random element. This is part of the charm, but also means wasted resources if you do not know who to meet, and cannot check the guest list first.
Anyway, when you finally meet the right person, at the right place and time, the question remains: why should s/he help you?
Some people, usually younger ones, enjoy the drinking and the genuine friends they make.
In the course of one’s career, networking becomes less fun. One has fixed one’s friends and drinking and eating lose their appeal. Domestic issues impose themselves.
Networking thus becomes less “social” and more “work”. However, a problem presents itself. Without the fun aspect to draw people in, it is hard to get a lot of people together.
The solution is often to join a group for more senior decision makers to get together, perhaps over breakfast and with some good content organized by a third party.
But this is not perfect. Large events are exciting, but what if your issue is sensitive and confidential? What if you don’t have the skill or the time to move around the room collecting name cards? What if you need information urgently? And how do you get the person whom you have just met to help you? Why should he help you after only just meeting you?
The Delphi Network professionalizes networking by providing on-demand, specific and reliable information to its members. We do the time-consuming event attendance (actually we put on our own events as well) so that the members don’t have to.
Through our activities, we initiate and carefully maintain long-term relationships so that members can tap into them short-term.
We reassure our contacts that our members are “credit worthy” . You could say we provide a “credit guarantee” to accelerate the acceptance of our members by people with good information.
The credit guarantee is in practice an ethical guarantee. We believe ethics is directly related to information quality. Responsible, decent people tend to have more reliable information than unreliable and tricky people. This is why the DN is by invitation only and members can veto member candidates. (See the “triple lock”).
When a member needs someone to speak to, we go through our data-base and find the right persons. It might be a fellow DN member, who has a duty to meet and assist a fellow member (see our code of conduct).
If the source is not a DN member, we can still persuade him/her to share his insights because he knows we will help him/her back where possible. In addition, s/he knows that meeting our members is worthwhile, given the selection criteria for joining the DN.
In terms of what we are not: we do not believe in size or volume or the famous “network effect”. We believe in a bespoke, narrow and deep model, which is the best space for authentic conversations to take place.
We also believe that the best way of refining information is face-to-face question and answer, as made famous by Socrates. Such “Socratic dialogues” are characteristic of the DN.
It’s a unique and innovative model but seems to tick all the boxes. You should try it some time.