The Happy Engineer Podcast

155: Get Rid of Sleazy Networking Once and For All

Are your networking efforts leaving you feeling empty rather than fulfilled? How can you take your networking skills for engineers to the next level? Is your network really your “net worth” these days?

In this episode, I dive into the misconceptions and pitfalls surrounding networking in the professional world.

Join me as I unpack the flawed mindset behind traditional networking strategies and propose a paradigm shift towards authentic connection and giving without expectation.

Discover why leading with generosity and genuine intent can not only transform your networking experiences but also propel your career forward with fulfillment and purpose.

Download the free RE-THINK NETWORKING checklist HERE that goes along with today’s training. Its built into our scorecard with 49 amazingly simple and powerful tips you need.

So press play and let’s chat about redefining networking for success without the sleaze.

Want free coaching, LIVE? Join us in a live workshop for deeper training, career coaching 1:1, and an amazing community!  HAPPY HOUR Workshop Live with Zach!


The Happy Engineer Podcast

Networking for Engineers: Shifting from Sleazy, Gain-Oriented to Genuine Relationship Building



LISTEN TO EPISODE 155: Get Rid of Sleazy Networking Once and For All

Previous Episode 154: Here is a Method to Make Career Fulfillment a GAME with Jay Abbasi


Re-think Professional Networking Strategies for Engineering Managers and Leaders

In this episode of The Happy Engineer Podcast, let’s reshape our approach to networking as engineering leaders together.

Here are the top three insights:

1. Shift your mindset from “givers gain” to “give to give.” Focus on giving for the pure joy of it, not for the expectation of receiving something in return.

2. Start by expanding your network within your current circle of colleagues, then intentionally reach out to those you don’t interact with as often, and finally, connect with aspirational figures in your industry.

3. Download the free Re-Think Networking Checklist and explore practical tips for accelerating your engineering career with authenticity and impact.

To go deeper and build an action plan around these points and why all this matters, listen to this entire conversation.



Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: I can’t stand this. Please tell me why the word networking is still so sleazy, so salesy, so spoiled with a mindset that is backward and does not work. It is super frustrating to me and I thought we were past this. Energy in this culture around networking being about getting advantages on your way to the top by knowing the right people and all about this sleazy, just trying to use people mentality.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:32] I think that is awful. It’s completely broken. And frankly, it’s why so many engineering leaders find the word networking itself to have such a negative connotation. They don’t see themselves as good. At networking, most engineering managers I talked to put communication skills and networking in particular as a weakness for them in their career development.

[00:00:56] And when we talk about improving on that, there’s a resistance in their subconscious mind because they’ve been programmed and what they see around them is a really bad example and a bad mindset about what networking is and why we should do it. There is a really important shift you must make if you want to a fall in love with networking and be become great at it in a way that not only gets results, but is deeply fulfilling.

[00:01:30] Now I went to a networking event. It’s one of the international organizations that you’ve probably heard of. but I went to their weekly meeting where all the business owners who are a part of it went around the circle, they. Said their name, they gave a little pitch, there was a lot of business card passing at this event, and everybody was there seeking to drum up business for whatever it is that they do.

[00:01:58] And I know there are a lot of different organizations like this in the world, I don’t mean any negativity or judgment against them, but the whole time I was there, It just felt a little bit yucky, very impersonal. I didn’t connect deeply with anyone in the group and the president of our local chapter of this organization here came up to me to introduce himself and have a little chat to see if I wanted to join this group and he made a comment.

[00:02:30] About the mission of this group. And he said, one of the things that we love about our networking group is the belief we all hold that givers gain givers. Gain, and that’s why we love to give to each other and pass referrals to each other and pass business to each other because every time you give to someone else in this group, you’re going to win and get something from this group in return now on the surface.

[00:03:02] I thought that sounded pretty good, lead with generosity is a phrase that I’ve used many, many times in my coaching. And it’s something I deeply believe in lead with generosity, be a giver, but something didn’t settle for me in that statement. Givers gain. There’s something about the motivation of giving the motivation of why I want to help you being exclusively rooted.

[00:03:34] In helping me, the only reason I’m going to give the only reason I’m here supporting your business is because I want you to send me business and it sounded nice on the surface. I’m going to be honest, but as I got a little deeper connected to that idea, I realized it just didn’t settle well with me. I don’t like the idea that the only reason for me to be generous.

[00:04:03] Is because I’m expecting something to come back around in return for me, this good karma coming my way, this, you know, God just blessing me because I was kind to someone else. The root of that still felt completely Selfish, 

[00:04:19] You get told that networking is essential for you to build your career. And the reason you need to network and build your network and invest into your network is so that your network can help you so that you can get the next promotion so that. You can gain, give to your network so that you can gain.

[00:04:43] That’s the message that I see all over LinkedIn, all over social media and all over other coaching that frankly is meaning well, but I think it’s. a cancerous way to approach this. That selfishness is what steals from the true authenticity and impact of networking. And for me, the true joy of building these relationships.

[00:05:11] Here’s the mindset you need. If you want to fall in love with networking, still experience the benefits, not in the gain of promotions, et cetera. Initially in the gain first, pure happiness, joy, pleasure, fulfillment. Now, not because of some future gain, but now shift from givers gain. To the mindset of give to give, give to give, give for the purpose of giving, give because giving in itself is enough.

[00:05:50] Give because that is the point. The point is not to gain. The point is to give, give to give. That is the foundational mindset. Of powerful networking and if you will lead into the workplace, into your industry, into that next conference, into your neighborhood with the mindset of give to give, I promise you.

[00:06:20] You’re going to have an easier time learning and mastering the skills and frankly, the joy of networking. Turns out I chose not to join that local networking group. No surprise. And again, I don’t mean any insult. I think these people mean well. But I also believe that that mindset plants a seed that steals the actual impact of what networking can bring.

[00:06:46] Now, let me make this clear. You will gain. Networking will help you build your career. It will open doors. It will accelerate your promotions. It will help you to have, uh, you’ll solve problems faster and get to where you want to go in your career faster. All those things are also true. I don’t want to take away from the fact that there is significant gain, but that is just a benefit of cherry on top, the frosting on your cake, like.

[00:07:16] It’s, it’s awesome. I love that part, but that’s not the reason that we do it. if selfishness is the driving force, then you’re missing out. Give to give. There’s a whole section in my new scorecard on engineering management and career development on rethinking networking. And if this mindset shift is something that’s.

[00:07:39] Opening up some awareness for you you want to go deeper on some of the tactics, some of the skills, the easy basic things that you want to get right when it comes to networking, then jump into the show notes. There’s a link right there. You can download the entire scorecard. There’s 12 tips around rethinking networking, easy ways for you to bring.

[00:08:00] more into your world when it comes to networking. And if you’re stuck on any of those 12, how to implement them, how to do them in your situation, then connect with me. I’ll be happy to share with you more insight. We can get you into one of our free coaching events called happy hour, where we do live.

[00:08:18] Sessions with folks just like you, and we’ll make sure you get that question answered, but go grab a copy of the scorecard. It covers a few other big areas beyond just networking as well, that you need to get right. If you want to accelerate your engineering career here in 2024, I want you to. Master this, but I want you to do it from the right heart, give to give.

[00:08:41] And if you don’t know where to begin in expanding your network, think of starting with a small circle, look at who you know right now and have a great relationship with. So here’s the exercise. Grab a piece of paper and put your name in the center. And I want you to draw a small circle just around your name and outside that circle.

[00:09:08] Write down the names of the four to six closest colleagues that you work with every day, people who you already know. Put those names in that circle. Might include your boss, some team members, a project manager, people you see and work with often. Then draw another circle outside of those names. This is where We need to fill in people who you don’t see as often, people who maybe, you know, you’ve had a conversation with, but you don’t really have a deep working relationship or a friendship with that person.

[00:09:49] These names you might be able to come up with quickly. You might have to do a little bit of digging. You could do it on a corporate org chart. If you have access to a digital copy of an org chart, you might look around and see some people who have been in meetings with you, but you forgot about them, but you know, they’re an important person to connect with, or maybe they’re a director of a different department.

[00:10:11] And you’d like to get to know them to expand your awareness of what’s happening in that department. Write that name down. Another great way to fill in these names. Is to ask the people in your first circle, Hey, Sarah. Who do you know in our organization that would be somebody really interesting for me to connect with and learn more about their career path or their domain expertise in engineering.

[00:10:37] I’d love to get to know some additional amazing people in our organization. Use your closest circle to get ideas of who else you could connect with outside of that. Then I’d encourage you to draw one more circle around the very outside and put on the edge of this. Those aspirational names, the people who you don’t really think you have access to today.

[00:11:05] But it would be amazing if you could connect with them. Hey, I’d be honored to be on that list. Send me an email. Sometimes Zach at oasis of courage. com whoever you want to put there. Maybe it’s an executive in your organization. Maybe it’s an industry thought leader who you follow on LinkedIn. Put some of those aspirational names around the outside when it comes to expanding your network.

[00:11:29] Now you have a little map. Fill in those names. And start being proactive to get in proximity to these people. If you can schedule zoom calls, teams, calls, video chats, phone calls, if you have no access to them directly that way, reach out to them on linkedin, shoot them a dm, shoot them an email, and if you have no option at all to get in touch with them that way, maybe you go find their content and just comment and engage, get into their world that way, look for opportunities to start showing up in their world, begin connecting, Bye.

[00:12:09] If you don’t know what to say, or you don’t know how to make this happen again, let’s connect. I want to help you get started on this first. Get your mindset, right? Give to give second, get intentional and proactive, build this map, get the names written down and start making it happen. If you’re already someone who considers themselves a great networker, you can still take it further.

[00:12:38] Never underestimate the power of being in proximity to the right people. Give to give, but recognize you will absolutely. Reap reward in your career and in your life every day, grab the other tips on networking and our scorecard. The link is right there in the show notes. It’s totally free, super powerful tool.

[00:13:02] We’d love to get you a copy of that. And like I said, if you need some help live in a conversation from me, then register for our next happy hour. We do it every month. It’s a really fun event. I bring coaching, the same stuff that we use in our paid coaching programs, sharing it with you totally for free there at happy hour.

[00:13:21] You can meet some of our other clients. It’s an amazing event come every month. You can register a link for that is also in the show notes and as always get out there and crush comfort, create courage in your career and in your life. And my friend, let’s do this.