I often hear that someone is looking for contacts. That they are collecting contacts. That they have good contacts. And I am unimpressed, similarly to how Mariusz Pudzianowski isn’t impressed when he sees you sweating at the gym. If you want to have good contacts, buy yourself a phone book. That’s not what business is about, and definitely not what networking is about.
I am sitting in the Costa Coffee on Świdnicka in Wrocław right now, where one can find me whenever I’m in this city. A select few know why. I mention this not just for you to envy me my break from work or even to say that the text about MP Migalski was written here one year ago, but to show the difference between a contact and a relationship.
If you have my contact information, because you googled it, and that’s not particularly difficult, that doesn’t mean you know why I like sitting in this coffeeshop. And you probably don’t know why I sit on floor -1 near the rear wall. If we have a deeper relationship, you know very well what this is all about, and if you call at night to suddenly ask for help, I will be more inclined to help you than if you say:
Good evening, I am so sorry to be calling at 11:50 P.M., but I googled your number and I wanted to ask for somebody to pick me up from the Central Railway Station and for a place to crash until next week.
The story is the same if you find my lost phone or find the password to the cloud on which I keep my base of contacts… still won’t give you much. Yes you will find numbers to people who you may have dreamed of talking to, but that’s not enough. Because how do you imagine calling one of the richest Poles in such a situation?
Good day Mr. CEO. I have your number from Matt Gnyszka’s phone, which I found on the street. I have a lucrative proposition for you!
If you have a relationship with someone or a relationship with someone who has a relationship with the one with whom you would like to establish a relationship, contact is a secondary, technical matter. The road from having contact to entering into a relationship is often long. Bah! To make use of a contact, one often has to find someone to make introductions anyway.
This is why you should seek good relationships more than contacts, and your approach to networking (I hate this word, but there is no good substitute) should be more like that of a farmer than that of a hunter.
I remember when a man from a certain foundation in Poznań called me once and asked if it would be possible to arrange a meeting concerning fundraising for his activities. I would not be available in time, so he suggested that maybe I could drop him a couple of numbers to some rich people who would like to support them, and then he would seal the deal… I still laugh about this conversation. People are not ATMs, and business isn’t just checking off contacts from a list.