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15 in ’15: Turning Networking on its Head

BY mikeklein In recent months, one of the biggest topics has been the "sharing" or "barter" economy, enabled by the latest range of apps, online exchanges and other digital tools. Among other thoughts this has prompted, I had a realization that these tools represent reservoirs of non-financial wealth, wealth that can be given and shared at least as easily as it can be monetized.

Around New Year, I hit 2500 LinkedIn contacts. In so doing, it struck me that this was a massive reservoir of "wealth", but one requiring some agitation to unlock and spread that wealth. So, I launched my personal project for the year: "15 in '15"--an effort to recruit people to make 15 introductions between people in their own networks-for no specific agenda.

The idea--even though most people make a few connections between friends and colleagues, very few of even the most socially generous people intentionally look for introductions to make. A target, say 15 in '15, and a commitment to participate, focuses the mind and calls to action.

So far, I have mobilized 11 participants and already made a dozen introductions of my own, between peers, people with common interests, and people who could potentially do business together. Naturally, I would be delighted to have more participants on the team--let me know in the comment field or send me a note if you want to participate.

In joining, we'll turn networking on its head-from being mainly about career advancement to being social philanthropy. By shifting the approach to networking-it changes the terms.

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1 thought on “15 in ’15: Turning Networking on its Head”

  1. Turning networking on its head – or reclaiming the real world of networks. Maybe our ability to use our networks as a resource started to contort when the word “networking” was coined by Bill Lewis in 1985 to describe connecting people in order to build a business network. Before that, people were connected in tribes, groups, societies.
    The people we know have always been resources – a decade before the term networking was coined, sociologists were looking at the influence of the links between groups in the ability of people to find jobs, showing that the more links there are between groups of people, the easier it is for people to find jobs.
    Indeed, in December 2016 the Dutch government published a study showing that children of migrants do relatively better at school than their “ethnic” Dutch peers, have a relatively higher level of education, and have more difficulty finding jobs. A paradox? Not really. These young people, the study noted, lack functional networks – they don’t know enough people who know people who know people in the Netherlands that can help them find a job.
    Mike, I love your 15 in ’15 and I guess we are coming up to 17 in ’17, or does it expand exponentially? It could if, as you suggest, you have a team working on it.
    The people we know are our social capital who can bring us in to contact with so many great people – to babysit, to ride bikes with, to share a holiday with, to introduce us to things that they found highly valuable and want to have others benefit from too. Using our connections, our networks, is not just a business thing. It is the way we have always developed our society. It is the core organising structure of communities.
    Social capital is only useful when used. We need to utilise the connections we have.

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