Networking and Jantelov
Du skal ikke tro, at du er noget
(Don’t think YOU are anything special)
The first of the 10 rules in Jantelov/ Jante’s Law
I was running a “Confidence in Networking” session last week. One of the delegates, who was originally from Scandinavia, explained that some of the impressions he had about networking were very much in conflict with the idea of ‘Jantelov’. He explained that this is a social law that promotes humility and frowns upon showing off.
Showing off and the social concerns about being seen to do so are worries that are often aired when we are coaching on communication skills. Although Jante’s Law is more extreme, most people with a Northern European background have had the ‘showing off’ aspect of their personalities squished from a very young age.
You can be confident and still almost obey Jantelov because confidence is not about showing off. Stating facts, such as an achievement that you have made or something that you can do to help someone you meet at a networking event is not showing off but being truthful. How you carry yourself, with a confident neutral posture, how you engage with others with good eye contact and an un-tense body all aid towards an air that you are someone comfortable in their own skin, not a rampant ego. In my desk based research for this blog (thank you Google and Wikipedia!) some examples of Jantelov in action are when people go as far as lying, deliberately underplaying their achievements to not appear to be bragging. In the UK and US falsifying either way is a strict no-no so stick to the truth at all costs.
The very best networkers are those who listen well, engage with interest in the person they are meeting and follow up the offers of help they have given. You may not even have to proffer your achievements. Those with a Scandinavian background may therefore be naturally better at networking because they will have been bought up not to be ‘me, me, me’ all the time. This would be such a refreshing change for many who often meet crashing bores at networking events. When we run these courses it can be the good listeners, quite frequently the more introverted delegates, who are the ones that feel that networking isn’t for them. But the reality is that those who listen well and understand that networking is farming not hunting are going to find it more successful for them than those who think that networking is a direct selling event.
So my advice to those who have been bought up with Jantelov is to go forth and network because you will be very adept at it. Try not to judge those who aren’t humble though. Many people are nervous on these occasions and that’s often when the showing off gets worse. You can be modest and a good networker but don’t underplay to the extent of lying about it as it could backfire.
p.s. Following Jante’s Law to the letter at interview however may be more problematic. I think that will make for an ideal Part II to this blog.