Networking Ethics II

[This is the second in the series on the difference between Network Marketing and Selling. You can find the first part HERE. In it, Jeff begins exploration of networking through the lens of three versions of the Golden Rule.]

The root of the issue

All of us can be fooled by the prejudices we have learned - the stereotypes we have internalized. They may provide very useful guides to our behavior in many situations, but they will also lead us to wrong conclusions too often. You may see a person who outwardly exhibits a different clothing style than you, or hear a word pronounced improperly. Our automatic, unconscious reaction is to group, classify, infer a whole list of other characteristics (usually negative) we associate with that group, and apply them to the individual.

Even if we are conscious of this behavior, it still happens. And it also happens in the reverse - others are making the same snap judgments about us, our dress, our behaviors. We probably would not like to be classified by our age, gender, heritage, clothing, physical appearance, etc... but we all are. (Side note... if you apply version 2 of the rule here, you'd probably see that you don't like it, so you ought not do it to others.)

We can make it work for us by thinking through some of the inferences and doing our best to take advantage of the stereotypes. And of course the bad actors among us know this (con men certainly can dress the part). 

My point here is that we are attempting to correct a normal, natural reaction because of some undesirable consequences. The first step was to acknowledge the issue. Second we have to explore the cause (it's human nature... a consequence of the way our brain organizes and accesses information). Third we must suggest one or more solutions, and finally we should test those proposed solutions (to see if they work, and to look for undesirable consequences of those solutions).

The platinum rule to the rescue

So... back to what does all this mean for you? It means you (and I, and everyone who is attempting to market themselves by networking) must find a way out of this trap. We need to grow our skills at treating each other properly, so we can achieve the levels of being known, liked, and trusted that we desire. 

I've shown we cannot count on our ability to extend our personal preferences to others, and I've shown that we all have a natural tendency to stereotype. What do we have left?

The answer here is simple. We must do our best to force ourselves to ignore the stereotype and talk to others. The only way out of this trap is to have a conversation with an individual so you can learn from them how they want to be treated and treat them that way. And this is a responsibility that is mutual: they must learn the same about you.

The consequence here is that we each have a responsibility to know our own limits about what we will tolerate, and learn appropriate ways to let others know those limits. No one has permission to treat you as a means to an end. In a networking situation, no one should be selling to you without you asking them to do so. 

I invite you all to test this in your own interactions.

Come learn the skills you need to really make your networking effective. <— Link