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Networking (Dogs Do It!) vs. Network Building

Reposted with permission from the Connecting to Change the World blog. dogs-networking-e1415818902191-225x300We found this depiction of networking at Dog Mountain in Vermont, where Stephen Huneck’s gallery/chapel/gift shop contains countless delightful images of canines. Dogs checking each other out by sniffing each other’s butts: a social behavior, networking. Every dog does it, and so do we humans, though usually in other ways. We point out in chapter 1 of Connecting to Change the World that people network with each other for many purposes. As Aristotle pointed out long before Facebook made it easy to befriend with just a click: “Man is by nature a social animal.” But being good at networking is not the same as being good at building a social-impact network. Most people have networking in their blood. But network building is a practice; in involves particular ideas, frameworks, methods, techniques, and tools—practical knowledge that works. Much has been learned about this practice from the recent experiences of network builders themselves and from the experiments and insights of researchers in mathematics, physics, sociology, biology, computer science, and other disciplines. Knowing how to build a network doesn’t require a graduate degree, but it involves much more than just going with the flow. The practice of building networks—designing, starting, managing, and evaluating them—can be learned and mastered.