This is the second part of a discussion about Applied Anthropology as the second branch of anthropology and how to apply it to Business. Here we look at how to establish your identity in the Business culture. Don't be surprised if you see some similarities with successful "marketing" yourself within the academic community. The secret to success begins by learning to speak the language vocally and behaviorally. How do you do that?
Become a participant- observer. Go to networking events in your community and join social or professional groups, such as Toastmasters, the Chamber of Commerce, Professional organizations in the area of your interest, Civic organizations such as the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Masons, Knights of Columbus, and/or volunteer or join a non-profit organization that serves an interest that you have.
My own experience has been that one can succeed as an applied anthropologist by making personal the contacts through such groups. This is where you learn and practice the language and dialects of the business world. Here you learn about job and business opportunities that don't appear in the local want ads, or even the national ads. Most jobs, whether projects or employment opportunities, are not advertised, nor posted with the State Employment Office or posted on the Internet. Most jobs opportunities are found through connections, personal connection. As an applied anthropologist you have to learn who the right connections are. To do so, use your skills and knowledge about social networks and social organization to find out.
How to Network
To start - Don't sell Anthropology, sell yourself!
One of the biggest mistakes I see all the time at networking events can be found among the young and/or newbie participants in the group or at the event. You can spot them easily. They are the ones who either stand back and just eat and drink the goodies while looking out of place. Or they are the ones who are quick to introduce themselves and then immediately begin their sales pitch. These are the ones who after a couple of visits are most likely not to return . Why?
The former, the wall flowers, never engage in the event. Instead they just attend the event and expect people to come to them. They are like the kid who goes to a dance but is afraid to ask anyone to dance. They pay their admission fee, eat, drink, and maybe socialize with the other wallflowers. Later they wonder why nothing changed, forgetting that they did very little to make it change.
The latter, the hustlers, overly "engages." They come on too strong - to the point of turning off any contacts they try to make. Like pitchmen, after a brief introduction, they go immediately for the sale . For them, this event is just another opportunity to get their product or service in front of a large audience. They are playing the law of large numbers. Meet enough people and you will make a sale.They are not really interested in contacts as people.
The Social Networker
The smart networker is the one who starts by knowing that these events are NOT selling situations. Selling is done elsewhere. These are social situations where you can meet and get to be know and be known by other people. This is where they get to know you as a person. Your goal is to participate, observe and listen in order to qualify and be qualified for opportunities as they arise. This is your opportunity to show others your personality and to learn from them what they might need. This is the first step in personal sales, known in business as "qualifying the customer".
Joining social networks and qualifying the individuals who fit your needs in the group is the first step in building rapport. The second step is allowing the members of the group to qualified you.
You know this term, "rapport." You have heard it in your anthropology classes. This is the same process you would use to enter a strange village where you want to study. Once you have identified yourself and established yourself, you are ready to identify who in the group might be aware of potential opportunities of interest to you. Cultivate those relationships. Learn their social network and what role they play in these networks. Malcolm Gladwell has described these roles as the Connector, Maven, and Salesman in his book The Tipping Point.
Who are they?
You want to identify who plays these rols are and how they can be of assistance to you.
The Connector has a sociable personalities who brings people together. He or she knows who you need to talk to or meet and can arrange a meeting. The Maven is well informed and likes to pass along his/her knowledge to others. He/she is a fountain of information about all sorts of things and is happy to share. The Salesmen is, as the name implies, adept at persuading the unenlightened. The Salesman is the one you turn to to sell the idea and to help you close the deal.
It will help you, as well, to define your role in the network. Depending upon the role you chose or is assigned to you, you can approach others and ask for their assistance and recruit them to help you with your need.
These are NOT the skills that one learns in graduate anthropology classes, yet they are the skills that anyone who hopes to succeed in business must assimilate. This is why I call Applied Anthropology the second branch of anthropology. The role of the applied anthropologist is to help clients in the business community to identify and solve business problems from an anthropological perspective.
Networking is the process that an applied anthropologist uses to help make things happen and understanding why they happen.