The Psychology of Networking

BRONX, NEW YORK – On Thursday, February 23rd, Dr. Michelle Weber, Professor of Management at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business spoke on the psychology crucial to successful networking. Sponsored by the School’s Office of Personal Professional Development, Dr. Weber used her experiences in both academia and industry to discuss enlightening, practical, and theory-based methods of networking, particularly useful for students seeking to connect with employers and employees within firms. With several opportunities for student participation and a question and answer segment, Dr. Weber’s talk was well-received by its attendees.

A graduate of New York University and Columbia University, Dr. Weber was conferred a PhD in Organizational Psychology and has published several articles in Total Quality Review and Journal for Quality and Participation. After serving as a Director of Human Resources at Philip Morris USA, Dr. Weber recently returned to the academic environment, teaching undergraduates at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus and graduate students at the Teachers’ College at Columbia University in Manhattan. Currently, Dr. Weber is chiefly interested in improving understanding of leadership practices and change within organizations.

With keen study of the principles of interpersonal influence, originally posited by Dr. Robert Cialdini in the late 1900s, Dr. Weber spoke to three of the principles that students should use to significantly expand the quality and extent of her or his personal network: the principle of “liking,” the principle of “scarcity,” and the principle of “reciprocity.” While seemingly simple concepts, she notes that such principles appeal to “deeply rooted human needs and drives” of individuals when used properly.

Regarding the first principle of “liking,” Dr. Weber says that psychology suggests that the rational individual is more ready to comply with those who are like him or her. To make use of this concept, Dr. Weber suggests that students seeking to network with an individual mention a simple commonality, such as the fact that both individuals attended the same high school.

The second principle involves “reciprocity,” whereby humans are naturally inclined to eventually repay those who first offer something. For instance, Dr. Weber notes that charitable organizations often see a significant increase, sometimes as much as double, in the amount of donations received when prospective donors are given a small, complementary token, such as address labels. To make rigorous use of this principle in a networking setting, Dr. Weber suggests that students analyze their unique abilities and skill-set to discover ways to benefit their intended connect. Noting students’ frequent use and understanding of technology, she shows how simple it is to use this principle, by suggesting that students offer up computer technical help.

The final principle is “scarcity,” specifically as it refers to maintaining professional relationships with employers for whom students are interested in working. With a basis in economic theory and psychology, this principle follows from the notion that humans tend to have a significant desire to acquire goods and opportunities that are in short supply. More specifically, human-being use the relative rarity of an item to analyze the value of goods and services, and are naturally increasingly motivated by loss, rather than opportunities for gain. For the student seeking to improve his or her networking relationship as he or she progresses in multi-round interviews, the student should be transparent about other opportunities afforded to him or her. By doing so, the prospective employer will feel that the individual’s value has been validated by competing firms and likely be more interested in offering the position to the student.

Using these three psychological principles, students can certainly increase their individual networks and stand out as a stellar job candidates.

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One thought on “The Psychology of Networking

  1. Pingback: The Psychology of Networking – Anders Papritz

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