Sticky croissant in my left hand, coffee in my right, congress programme tucked under one arm and computer bag precariously balancing on the shoulder of the other, I awkwardly weaved in and out of the people thronging in the ‘Atrium’ until I found some breathing space by the outer wall, along side a documentary photo exhibit. Looking onto the jostling Congress (www.devcomm.org) participants from this ‘safe’ spot, I found myself in a conundrum: Do I put on my networking hat, offer my sticky fingers to others and muster my best opening line in the hope of kick-starting a conversation to identify common interests and future possibilities? Or, do I busy myself with carefully examining the photo exhibit beside me – “Communication in the Disaster Zone” and drink my coffee in peace?
Day one, coffee break one – I allowed myself the photo exhibit, full in the knowledge that in those that followed I would need to step into networking mode (something which doesn’t come very naturally to me). As I did so I began thinking about a book I’d just come across whilst scouring the airport bookshelves on my way: Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind (2004) (http://www.edwarddebono.com/). “The beautiful mind… is a mind that can be appreciated by others – usually through conversation… Just as people can look at your physical beauty they can listen to the beauty of your mind… If you want to make your mind more beautiful you can. It is not a matter of innate intelligence or great knowledge. It is how you use your mind that matters” – read the intro.
Thinking about this book and about the Congress of which I would be part for the next three days, I began wondering about the link between natural networkers and ‘beautiful minds’. I believe that there is at least some link, whilst additional factors are certainly at work (introvert versus extrovert tendencies for example). I guess the question is: Do all good networkers have beautiful minds? And if so, do they have beautiful minds because of what they have learned from the many conversations they have had as good networkers? Or did they start with beautiful minds which have made them good conversationalists and therefore good networkers?
What would improving our networking skills contribute to beautifying the mind? And how would developing a more beautiful mind – and more ‘beautiful’ conversations – enhance the networker within? I will sign up for the makeover and let you know.