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致年轻的创业者:人脉没那么重要

更新时间:2017-8-28 11:27:25 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Good News for Young Strivers: Networking Is Overrated
致年轻的创业者:人脉没那么重要

Not long ago, after interviewing a venture capitalist onstage, I announced to the audience that we would take questions but no pitches. The first person at the microphone asked the investor to fund his start-up. I cringed as the second person started to pitch, too. Our educational event had quickly turned into a bad episode of “Shark Tank.”

不久前,在讲台上采访过一个风险投资者之后,我向观众宣布,他们可以提一些问题,但是不要推广自己的公司。第一个拿到麦克风的人请求投资者为他的初创公司提供资金。当第二个人也开始做推广时,我感到不快。我们这个教育性质的活动,很快就沦为了一集糟糕的《创智赢家》(Shark Tank)。

The following week, at a similar event, I saw a student ask a C.E.O. for her personal email address in front of the crowd. I’ve been stunned by the lengths people will go to at tech and business conferences to make a connection with a big name: sneaking backstage for a selfie, slipping business cards into briefcases, chasing them out the exit.

接下来的一周,在一个类似的活动中,我看到一个学生在众人面前向一名首席执行官索要私人电邮地址。在科技和商务会议上,为了能和业界名人有点交集,人们做出了一些让我震惊的事情:溜到后台求自拍,把名片塞进他们公文包里,在出口处围堵他们。

If the very thought of networking makes you throw up in your mouth, you’re not alone. Networking makes us feel dirty — to the point that one study found that people rate soap and toothpaste 19 percent more positively after imagining themselves angling to make professional contacts at a cocktail party. Just reading that research made me want to take a shower.

如果一想到“交际”你就想吐,你不是唯一一个。交际让我们感到肮脏——一项研究发现,人们在想象自己在鸡尾酒会上奋力进行职业社交之后,对肥皂和牙膏的正面评价提高了19%。仅仅是阅读那项研究就让我想洗个澡。

Yet we’ve all been warned that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Success is supposed to come to the suave schmoozers and social butterflies.

但是我们都听说过,关键不在于你知道什么,而在于你认识谁。成功会降临到那些温文尔雅、能说会道、善于社交的人头上。

It’s true that networking can help you accomplish great things. But this obscures the opposite truth: Accomplishing great things helps you develop a network.

交际可以帮助你做成大事,这是真的。但是反过来说也是事实:做成大事可以帮助你形成人际网络。

Look at big breaks in entertainment. For George Lucas, a turning point was when Francis Ford Coppola hired him as a production assistant and went on to mentor him. Mr. Lucas didn’t schmooze his way into the relationship, though. As a film student he’d won first prize at a national festival and a scholarship to be an apprentice on a Warner Bros. film — he picked one of Mr. Coppola’s.

比如娱乐界的一些重大突破。对于乔治·卢卡斯(George Lucas)来说,一个转折点是弗朗西斯·福特·科波拉(Francis Ford Coppola)雇他做制片助理,并在之后成了他的导师。但是卢卡斯并不是靠能说会道和科波拉扯上关系的。他还在读电影专业的学位时,就在一个全国性的电影节上赢得了一等奖,并获得了一笔奖学金,成为华纳兄弟公司(Warner Bros.)的一名学徒,可以参与制作一部电影——他选择了科波拉。

Or take Justin Bieber’s career: Although it took off after Usher signed him, he didn’t network his way into that meeting. Mr. Bieber taught himself to sing and play four instruments, put a handful of videos on YouTube, and a manager ended up clicking on one. Adele was discovered that way, too: She wrote and recorded a three-song demo, a friend posted it on Myspace, and a music exec heard it. Developing talent — and sharing it — catapulted them into those connections.

再来看看贾斯汀·比伯(Justin Bieber)的职业生涯:虽然他走红是在亚瑟小子(Usher)和他签约之后,但他也不是靠交际和对方扯上关系的。比伯自学了歌唱和演奏四种乐器,他在 YouTube上放了一些自己的视频,结果一个视频被业界经理看到。阿黛尔(Adele)也是这样被发掘出来的:她写了三首歌,把它们录在一个样片中,一个朋友把样片发在 Myspace上,结果被音乐界高管听到。开发才华——以及分享才华——让他们结识了业界要人。

For entrepreneurs, too, achievement is a magnet to mentors and a beacon to backers. Spanx took off when Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her favorite things of the year — but not because she was stalked by the company’s founder, Sara Blakely. For two and a half years, Ms. Blakely sold fax machines by day so that she could build her prototype of footless pantyhose by night. She sent one from the first batch to Ms. Winfrey.

对于创业者来说,成就是吸引导师的磁石,也是投资者的灯塔。Spanx是在奥普拉·温弗瑞(Oprah Winfrey)把它列为“年度最爱”后走红的——但温弗瑞这么做,并不是因为该公司创始人萨拉·布雷克利(Sara Blakely)纠缠她的结果。在长达两年半的时间里,布雷克利在白天销售传真机,这样她就可以在晚上制作这种无足连裤袜的原型。她从第一批产品中挑出一双发给了温弗瑞。

Networks help, of course. In a study of internet security start-ups, having a previous connection to an investor increased the odds of getting funded by that investor in the first year. But it was pretty much irrelevant afterward. Accomplishments were the dominant driver of who invested over time.

人脉当然是有帮助的。一项关于互联网安全初创企业的研究发现,如果你和投资者之前有联系,在第一年获得此人投资的几率就会增加。但是到了后来就变得无关紧要。随着时间的推移,成就才是投资者的主要驱动因素。

Similarly, researchers found that in hospitals, the radiologists who ended up with the most desirable networks were the ones with the highest performance nine months earlier. And in banks, star performers attracted bigger networks and were more likely to maintain those ties. Achievements don’t just help us make connections; they also help sustain those connections.

与此类似,研究人员发现,在医院,拥有最佳人脉的放射科医师是那些在九个月之前表现最好的人。在银行中,业绩明星能吸引更多人脉,而且更有可能保持这些关系。成就不仅能帮助我们建立联系;也能帮助我们维持这些联系。

Not long ago, I watched a colleague try to climb the ladder of success solely through networking. For a few years, he managed to meet increasingly influential people and introduce them to one another. Eventually it fell apart when they realized he didn’t have a meaningful connection with any of them. Networking alone leads to empty transactions, not rich relationships.

不久前,我目睹了一个同事试图仅靠人脉交际获得成功。几年来,他想方设法结识更多有影响力的人,并且介绍他们相互认识。最终,当他们意识到他没有同他们当中任何人建立起有意义的联系时,这一切也就分崩离析了。人脉交际只会导致空虚的交易,而不能带来深厚的关系。

It’s a lesson I’ve learned in my own career. I once emailed an entrepreneur I admired and got nothing in response. Some months later he contacted me out of the blue, with no memory that I had tried to get in touch before. He had attended a talk I gave and wanted to meet — now he had proof that I could add value.

我自己的职业生涯中也曾有过这样的教训。我曾经给一位我敬仰的企业家发过电子邮件,没有得到回复。几个月后,他突然联系了我,根本不记得我曾经试图联系过他。他说,他参加了我的演讲,并提出想和我见面——现在他有了证据,知道我可以带来增值。

My students often believe that if they simply meet more important people, their work will improve. But it’s remarkably hard to engage with those people unless you’ve already put something valuable out into the world. That’s what piques the curiosity of advisers and sponsors. Achievements show you have something to give, not just something to take.

我的学生们经常认为,如果他们能遇到更重要的人物,他们的工作就会得到改善。但是,除非你已经为这个世界带来了什么有价值的东西,否则是很难同这些人接触的。正是这些有价值的东西能激起顾问和赞助者的好奇心。成就表明你有一些东西可以给予,而不仅仅是想要得到一些东西。

Sure, you can fire off cold emails to people you respect, but you’ll be lucky if 2 percent even reply. The best way to attract a mentor is to create something worthy of the mentor’s attention. Do something interesting, and instead of having to push your way in, you’ll get pulled in. The network comes to you.

当然,你可以接二连三地给你尊重的人发送冒昧的邮件,但是能有2%的人回复,你就很幸运了。吸引导师的最佳方式就是创造某些值得导师关注的东西。做一些有趣的事情,而不是削尖脑袋挤进去,你会被自动吸收过去的。人脉会自动找到你。

Sociologists call this the Matthew effect, from the Bible: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance.” If you establish a track record of achievement, advantages tend to accumulate. Who you’ll know tomorrow depends on what you contributed yesterday.

社会学家援引《圣经》,称这种现象为“马太效应”(Matthew effect),“因为凡有的,还要加给他,叫他有余。”如果你建立起一系列的成就,优势就会积累起来。你会明白,你的明天取决于你昨天的贡献。

I don’t mean to suggest that success in any field is meritocratic. It’s dramatically easier to get credit for achievements and break into the elite if you’re male and white, your pedigree is full of fancy degrees and prestigious employers, you come from a family with wealth and connections, and you speak without a foreign accent. (Unless it’s a British accent, which has the uncanny ability to make you sound smart regardless of what words come out of your mouth.) But if you lack these status signals, it’s even more critical to produce a portfolio that proves your potential.

我并不是说任何领域内的成功都是由才能说了算的。如果你是男性和白人,背景包括各种高端学位和享有声望的雇主,出身于一个拥有财富和人脉的家庭,而且没有外国口音(除非是英国口音,它有一种不可思议的力量,不管你说的是什么,都能让你听起来非常聪明),那么你的成就与突破就更容易获得赏识。但是,如果你缺少这些象征着身份地位的标志,那么打造一份能证明潜力的成就履历就更为重要。

Of course, accomplishments can build your network only if other people are aware of them. You have to put your work out there. It shouldn’t be about promoting yourself, but about promoting your ideas. Evidence shows that tooting your own horn doesn’t help you get a job offer or a board seat, and when employees bend over backward to highlight their skills and accomplishments, they actually get paid less and promoted less. People find self-promotion so distasteful that they like you more when you’re praised by someone else — even if they know you’ve hired an agent to promote you.

当然,只有当你的成就为他人所知的时候,它们才能为你建立人脉。你必须把你所做的工作推广出去。这不是为了推销你自己,而是为了推销你的想法。有证据表明,自吹自擂并不能帮助你获得工作机会或董事会席位,当员工全力以赴地表现自己的技能和成就时,他们实际上获得的报酬和晋升机会反而更少。人们觉得自我推销实在太讨厌了,所以,如果听到你受到别人赞扬,他们才会更喜欢你——即便他们知道你雇用了一位代理人来推销你。

So stop fretting about networking. Take a page out of the George Lucas and Sara Blakely playbooks: Make an intriguing film, build a useful product.

所以别再为人脉交际而苦恼了。学学乔治·卢卡斯和萨拉·布莱克利的榜样:制作一部有趣的电影,制造一种有用的产品。

And don’t feel pressure to go to networking events. No one really mixes at mixers. Although we plan to meet new people, we usually end up hanging out with old friends. The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking, to learn from one another or help one another.

不要有参加人脉交际活动的压力。没有人能和一群交际花真正打成一片。虽然我们有认识新朋友的计划,最后往往还是会和老朋友们混在一起。最好的人脉交际是在人们为了建立人脉之外的目的而相聚,彼此学习或互相帮助的时候。

In life, it certainly helps to know the right people. But how hard they go to bat for you, how far they stick their necks out for you, depends on what you have to offer. Building a powerful network doesn’t require you to be an expert at networking. It just requires you to be an expert at something.

在生活中,结识正确的人肯定会有帮助。但是,他们会有多么努力地支持你,他们为你冒多大风险,这都要取决于你所提供的东西。建立强大的人脉不需要你成为人脉交际的专家,只需要你成为专家。

If you make great connections, they might advance your career. If you do great work, those connections will be easier to make. Let your insights and your outputs — not your business cards — do the talking.

如果你有很好的联系人,他们可能会促进你的职业生涯。如果你的工作很出色,就会更容易结识这些人。要靠你的见解和成绩来说话——而不是一张名片。

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