Cinderella is one of the most well known and popular fairy tales. It has been read for centuries and recreated through various plays, films, children’s stories, and books. The tale is mesmorising and most likely will not disappear any time soon.
What little girl does not dream of having a real fairy god-mother who gives her a beautiful gown and glass slippers, or longs to go attend the Prince’s ball? None that I know.
While this story does have it’s charm and is a good walk to take down childhood lane, it still offers valuable lessons for adults today. Especially those in business who wish to understand networking.
Everyone known how the story of Cinderella goes. No matter the version, it usually follows a plot similar to this:
- The girl’s mother dies, and her father remarries a horrible woman with two equally terrifying daughters.
- Sometimes the father dies as well, and sometimes not.
- After the father dies the step mother and two sisters treat the girl like a slave. (If the father is around he does nothing to prevent this cruelty.)
- The king/mayor/popular boy holds a ball/event/party and everyone in the land is invited.
- The Step Mother and daughters go, but do not allow the girl to come.
- Someone comes to help the girl get to the ball.
- The girl must be home by midnight.
- The girl goes to the ball, meets the prince/popular boy/love interest, falls in love, and completely forgets about the time.
- Realising the time, the girl frantically leaves, living behind her shoes.
- The next day the love interests looks everywhere for the mysterious girl he meet.
- He tries the shoe on every girl.
- He eventually finds Cinderella, who is conveniently the only person in the entire town who wears a different size shoe than everyone else.
- They get married and live happily ever after
- The end.
What does this story have to do with networking? If you are new to the idea of networking, what does it even mean? Well I’m sure you could find a lovely detailed explanation in the dictionary, but to put it into my own words:
Networking is working with people you know who help create new opportunities for you.
Cinderella needed someone’s help to get to the ball. She did not have a the proper clothes or a means to get there. She could not do it alone.
So enters the fairy-god mother (although I don’t know why is woman did not come to help poor Cinderella, and take her away from her awful step-family earlier).
In business terms the fairy-god mother is a connection. She has skills and knowledge Cinderella did not have, and she was willing to share it.
In your own life connections do the same thing. They are people you know, sometimes well, and sometimes only as acquaintances. They can introduce you to people or companies you do not know, but would like to know. They can teach you skills you need or want in order to pursue your desired path.
The people you network with can open doors which seemed impossibly locked to you.
If networking is done correctly, they can help you open hundreds of locked doors, and you can help others open their own locked doors.
Cinderella’s goal was getting to the ball. Her locked door was getting there. In some stories she knew the fairy god mother before hand, and some she did not. In whatever situation, because she knew this woman she was able to ask for help and reach her goal.
The fairy god mother also introduced Cinderella to a new crowd of people. While she did not directly say, “Cinderella, this is the prince. Prince, this is Cinderella,” she gave Cinderella that opportunity. Cinderella arrived at the ball and met the Prince, all thanks to her fairy god mother’s help. She then socialised with the Prince, won his heart, and they got married. That seems like pretty good networking.
While real life networking and fairy tale networking are a little different, the idea is the same. Your connections, the people you network with, can directly or indirectly introduce you to new connections.
They can directly introduce you to new connections by giving you their contact information, introducing you in person, telling you about a product they sell, and so forth.
Your connections can indirectly introduce you to new connections by opening new opportunities for you. Maybe you have one connection who mentors you in a certain skill and then helps you get a job. Indirectly he or she introduced you to everyone in that job, and also anyone who from that job who introduces you to another person. This is what the fairy god mother did. That of how big Cinderella’s network is now.
Connections can also teach you skills, or give you the tools you need to succeed. Cinderella’s fairy god mother gave her a gown, coach and drivers, and most importantly those shoes. Without the shoes the Prince never would have found Cinderella after she left the ball. This was a key tool in her fairy tale networking.
Your connections may not give you a beautiful dress or shoes, but they can give you other valuable items. Apart form more connections, they can give you skills. They can teach you what they know about business, pottery, accounting, marketing, coin collecting, or whatever it is you are looking for. They can give you advice from their own lives, or something they learned from their connections. They can warn you of bumpy roads you may face or tell you what skills you do need to succeed. If you use those skills and knowledge properly, they will become like Cinderella’s glass slipper and lead you to even better opportunities.
The bigger your network, the more people you have to connect with, and the more skills, talent, resources, knowledge, and wisdom you have to draw from.
Like Cinderella, networking can change your life. You will meet people like the fairy god mother who help you achieve the dreams you never thought could be achieved.