My natural state is an introvert (i’m an “INTJ” for you Myers Briggs fans). I don’t last long at cocktail parties, though I do push myself to get out there and keep meeting people. Especially in the early days. “Networking” feels important when you’re starting a business from complete anonymity.

But the greatest collaborations in my life haven’t come from business card exchanges and getting chatty over drinks. On the contrary, they have resulted from a mutually beneficial exchange – one the started from an effort to share something. Perhaps it was sharing advice, ideas, or contributing to the open-source community. With the rise of collaborative business practices and professionally-geared social networks, sharing has become a better form of networking.

I mentioned this in a previous post on 99U, “A Manifesto For Free Radicals.”

We believe that “networking” is sharing. People listen to (and follow) us because of our discernment and curatorial instinct. As we share our creations as well as what fascinates us, we authentically build a community of supporters that give us feedback, encouragement, and lead us to new opportunities. For this reason and more, we often (though, not always) opt for transparency over privacy.

As I watch more people and companies use sites like GitHub, StackExchange, and Behance to find peers to collaborate with, learn from, or hire, I realize that these platforms may be more efficient than happy hour when it comes to meaningful collaborations. And if we rely a little less on old-school networking, maybe happy hour will become a little more happy for all of us.

  • Justin

    I would like to see more details about this topic.

  • Rich Wellman

    Hello fellow INTJ. Most introverts struggle with networking because they approach it from the extrovert perspective. Lots of glad-handing and flittering around like a butterfly. Introverts are more comfortable relating deeply to a few people versus relating shallowly to a lot of people. Devora Zach’s book “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” is a great networking guide for introverts. My favorite quote from the book is “Extroverts collect. Introverts connect.”

    I like the idea of sharing to establish relationships. Some networking books advise you to focus on what you can do for the other person. That is a good first step to get the focus off what you can get out of the relationship. The next step is to focus on what you can share with the other person. That is the heart of true collaboration.

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