Developing Your Career

Networking: Giving and Something “Otherish”

By Greg Simpson on May 28, 2013

Wharton management professor Adam Grant classifies people into three categories: givers, takers and matchers. When applied to networking, he tells us that givers understand the importance of building relationships and trust, always looking to assist without an agenda or expectation of getting something in return. Takers tend to approach networking with an agenda and focus on getting something, while matchers approach networking with eye on reciprocity, maintaining a balance of give and take.

In a recent Knowledge@Wharton interview, Grant discusses new research on reciprocity presented in his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Grant identifies the primary characteristics of these three groups and reveals that of the three groups, givers are “overrepresented” at the top of most career success measurements, as well as the bottom. What happens is that givers burn out, exhaust themselves and are exploited. What’s needed is an approach that is generous with others, but not at the expense of your own needs and ensures your interests are served as well – a group of givers Grant calls “otherish.”

To build a strong network, you must be willing to give. But creating the right balance is critical. If you find yourself spending so much time helping others that your own career and/or personal life is suffering, you may need to re-evaluate your approach. How do you move yourself into the “otherish” giver category, without sacrificing your desire to help? When requests for help come your way, set boundaries and limitations as to how much you can do. What assistance might you offer that won’t be overly disruptive to your schedule, but will add value? Can you make an introduction? Do you have five minutes to offer advice? Can you provide feedback on a resume or cover letter?

We often derive a great deal of satisfaction from helping others. However, you don’t want to sacrifice your own needs and interests in doing so. A realistic and sustainable approach to helping others in your network will enhance your reputation, motivate and invigorate you, and pay dividends on your career in the future.

One Response to “Networking: Giving and Something “Otherish””

  1. Peter Doris


    Your article transcends career concerns and offers advice to people in the personal,spiritual and the working dimensions of our lives. Your post is very well done.



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