We all know how important networking is. There’s the fabled “It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know?” question. I talk (a lot) about “making rain,” and yet, there is a dark side to networking.

Let me explain.

Yesterday I received the following question (which is a variation of a question I receive regularly when I talk about networking):

“[…] Of course, networking and building new relationships is incredibly important. Grabbing coffee and chatting for a half-hour can be a great start to a new relationship. My issues is that I’m hesitant to ask people (especially those more senior) to meet when there isn’t a clear objective to the meeting aside from simply networking. I don’t want to waste the other person’s time, and what are we even supposed to talk about?”


Networking for the sake of networking is superfluous, usually doesn’t lead to anything, and is a waste of time and energy. The question I would ask myself is: Why do I want to be connected to this person? Be specific about what you need. The more specific you are, the easier it usually is for people to help. A generic “I need help with business development” is nice but doesn’t tell me what I can do for you specifically. Instead, if you can name me three people who would help your business, maybe I can get you at least one step closer to them.

Networking is not a sport, and there are no trophies for creating the most connections. It’s about creating genuine relationships. When you approach it from this angle the question above becomes obsolete, as you have tons of stuff to talk about. And never forget: Have some serious fun!

Networking is about creating genuine relationships.  Tweet This Quote

Pascal Finette

Author Pascal Finette

Pascal is the Managing Director of Singularity University's Startup Lab. He is also an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker who has worked in Internet powerhouses, such as eBay, Mozilla, and Google, and Venture Capital—starting both a VC firm and accelerator program.

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