Monday, November 10, 2008

Networking Pocketbook by Jon Warner

This 100 page pocketbook on Networking is described as ‘a pocketful of tips, tools and techniques to build and maintain successful relationships that will enhance your professional and private life’.

It is one of a series of over 100 pocketbooks looking at appraisals and balance sheets to time management and vocal skills.

Being part of the ‘Management Pocketbook’ series, it examines the art of networking primarily as a way of enhancing one’s business. However, the principles and tips will often have an application to other forms of networking such as bringing people together who are seeking friendship, those who have an interest in growing petunias or lovers of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The author, Jon Warner has had twenty years experience as a manager in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia so his ideas have a wide application, at least in the western world. The size of a pocketbook limits the range of subjects that it is possible to address but this book would be enhanced by recognizing the different way that cultural contexts like the UAE or South Korea might affect the dynamic of networking.

Warner’s first section defines the new features of networking as distinct from more traditional forms of relating in groups. He recognizes that networking is an art that must be learned. This book, therefore, is a good introduction to people and organizations wanting to begin their learning about networking. In 100 pages Warner gives substance without getting bogged down in the clutter of detail and he concludes with references for readers wanting to go deeper.

The book progresses with ease through the different stages in networking—from learning to investing, nurturing and keeping the relationships. This Networking Pocketbook is motivational as well as educational and the illustrations by Phil Hailstone are apt and often amusing.

The word ‘networking’ is a slippery term but Warner focuses on networking as the art of relationship building—a ‘long term commitment to knowing more about yourself and others, and what you may be able to do together that you couldn’t do (or couldn’t do as well) alone’. (p3) With useful repetition Warner highlights this point later in the book with this statement: “Effective networking is more about what you can offer than what you can get from meeting with other people.” (p57)

Warner differentiates the various dispositions that people have towards relationships and specifically networking. He describes the traits of the ‘loner’, the ‘socializer’, the ‘user’ and the ‘builder’. In encouraging readers to develop the qualities of the ‘builder’ Warner says that such a person ‘takes a long-term perspective on relationships with others and thinks more about what he or she can give or offer, than about the return.” (p20) The book devotes attention to the core processes of networking and offers specific things and personal attitudes one can foster to become an effective networker.

Some of the spheres and strategies for networking that are cited include attendance at meetings, and the use of the business card, the telephone and email. One of the deficiencies of this book that was first published in 2000 and reprinted (but not updated) most years since this date up to 2005, is the absence of any reference to the new Internet networking platforms such as Facebook and MySpace. These communities have revolutionized the way people connect and do business. These new and interactive meeting places enhance the capacity for networking and take it to a new level. They do not contradict the principles of this book but any update of this useful primer might well address the way that the Internet can enhance the many forms of networking.

Jon Warner, Networking Pocketbook (Alresford, UK or Stylus Publishing, Sterling VA, USA: Management Pocketbooks, 2000).

This book is available from Magrudy’s Bookshops in the UAE at a cost of Dh 24.00.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Front cover of Networking Pocketbook.