The Fortune Book Club Book Review: Networking for People Who Hate Networking
Title: Networking for People Who Hate Networking
Author: Devora Zack
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 30 July 2010
Devora Zack is a self-confessed introvert and hater of all things networking, but she found a way to incorporate the intrinsic skill necessary for success despite her aversion. Networking for People Who Hate Networking is the guide on how anyone, regardless of their disposition, can learn to network successfully in order to reap the rewards from a connected and spirited network.
As a socially anxious and strongly introverted person myself, I found Networking for People Who Hate Networking to be an unrelatable drag that aims to further boost the profile of “the president of Only Connect Consulting” (the author) rather than truly aiming to help those that have a distaste for networking.
Advertised as the go-to resource for ‘introverts, the overwhelmed and the underconnected’, in reality the book is anything but helpful and its 192 pages can be distilled into the following three points:
- Pause: Dedicate time to planning and thinking through strategies before diving in.
- Process: Combine deep listening with well-formed questions.
- Pace: Give yourself a time-out to recharge between sessions / conversations.
These three simple points are the core of the book and are also practical common sense. Introverts by nature already plan and think before they speak, they also already listen well and ask questions and avoiding burnout is just a no-brainer.
Furthermore, the majority of the book’s focus is distinguishing between introverts and extroverts and the different characteristics the two have. The rest of the book is a smattering of psychology mixed in with arrogance, bad jokes, repeated examples and humble brags. It feels like the author is literally listing out everything she knows about introversion while trying desperately to relate it to networking. A much more accurate title for the book would have been “Networking and Introversion”.
As such, this leaves you with a very small amount of useful content within the book itself i.e. just those three aforementioned points, with the rest just filler content in order to reach a suitable page count. For example, there is a whole chapter dedicated to how to run a networking session that includes introverts – how on earth is this relevant for people who hate networking? The premise of the book is how to network after all, not how to run a networking event.
Moreover, while the psychology snippets can be deemed as somewhat interesting, they are basic principles that are already well established and well known. The ideas of cognitive dissonance and reframing, while relevant, are covered in practically every self-help and personal development book out there making them superfluous in this context.
Finally, the book is written in an extremely colloquial tone of voice that actually made me wince while reading. Phrases such as ‘Introville’ and ‘Extroland’ are thrown around to aid in the explanation of introversion and extroversion, in a similar fashion to the old adage that ‘men are from Mars’ and ‘women are from Venus’. There is also a noticeable lack of references to academic papers and other books, suggesting that the content has no academic standing and is purely opinion.
Networking for People Who Hate Networking is far from recommended and offers little information of use. Its primary goal is to act as marketing material for the author who makes a living from organising, running and speaking at networking events.With that said, the book achieves the lowest rating possible – 1/5.
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
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