Networking Lessons From 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

I finally got around to seeing the movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel this weekend… twice. I suspect I could watch it a third time and see something I missed the first two times. The film is visually interesting, and the humor is droll. It suited my tastes perfectly. Related: Why Your Network Isn’t Going To Help You The reason I wanted to comment on it, however, has nothing to do with my general entertainment. Instead, it has to do with the fact that I was going to be talking about networking this week. One part of the movie demonstrated perfectly, I believe, why networking is so important. The scenes to which I refer are midway through the story. The main character, M. Gustave H. and his sidekick, Zero, find themselves in the middle of nowhere and in need of help in order to escape the authorities given that M. Gustave H. has just escaped prison with the help of Zero. In the middle of a desolate field, a telephone booth stands. M. Gustave H. places a collect call to a fellow concierge at another hotel and sets into motion a series of calls, each to colleagues of his who drop whatever they are doing at the moment in order to rush to the aid of their friend. After a series of calls, a car appears, and M. Gustave H. and Zero are whisked away to the train so that they can set off on the next leg of their adventure. That segment of the film which includes at least five different characters dropping whatever they were doing in order to help their friend exemplifies, I believe, networking at its best. The individuals who dropped their immediate activity in order to come to the aid of their friend were returning a favor done for them perhaps long, long ago but never forgotten. Now, when their friend is in need, they stand at the ready to assist him because they know he would do the same for them. In the end, that is exactly what networking is. It is all about relationships. It is about giving as well as receiving. It isn’t about going to an event where you don’t know anyone with you looking to see what other people have to offer you. It is about going to an event with the attitude that you have something to offer the people you will be meeting. You are there to help them. You are important, and you have contacts, and you can use those contacts to help others. It just so happens that other people may have contacts that can also help you. But at the end of the day, it is about give and take… not just taking without giving. I have always dreaded “networking events.” I enjoy talking with people one-on-one, however. I enjoy meeting over coffee. I enjoy listening to people talk about their dogs and their kids and what they are doing with their lives. THAT is the stuff of relationship building. So, I suggest that if you also hate networking events, you consider changing your thoughts about what networking is and what it isn’t, and perhaps the next time you need to go to an event, instead of preparing for it with a sense of dread, you can prepare with a sense of anticipation and excitement. Think of all the good you can do for the other people who will be there! That is something about which you can get excited! This post was originally published at an earlier date.


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