Social capital. Synergy. Warm introductions. Denizens of the networking world rely on a boundless collection of buzzwords to explain how they get down to the business of building relationships. We ought to know. At RelSci, we use bits of this jargon every day as we seek to help companies leverage their relationships to fulfill their corporate goals.

To help us (and you) wrap our heads around the language of this most fundamental task, we created a compendium of definitions, although less the according-to-Webster's variety than the what-we're-really-trying-to-say-here sort. Here is a sample from our forthcoming Uncyclopedia of Networking, a comprehensive--and mostly comprehensible--list of the phrases you need to be fluent in to navigate the perilous seas of professional human-to-human interaction.

  1. Ask, the: The act of providing someone with the opportunity to feel better about themselves by doing something for you.
  2. Business card: (Archaic) A small, printed object, usually made of paper, confirming that you are who you say you are; often the only means for people to track you down when their email crashes.
  3. Cold call: The act of unexpectedly phoning, writing, or showing up at someone’s office. In business, this often commends the cold-caller as having initiative and energy. In the real world, this often condemns him/her as a stalker.
  4. Connections: People you know who know people you want to know and people you don’t even know you want to know but might…you know?
  5. Due diligence: A process incorporating research and analysis to learn as much about a person as possible, to insure that the opportunity to exploit a connection is not wasted.
  6. Eye contact: The effort to translate an ability to stare and/or focus for more than 10 seconds into a belief that you’re a person worth knowing.
  7. Face-to-face: A mythical description of communication without the use of a smartphone.
  8. Firm handshake: The effort to translate an ability to firmly but not oppressively hold another human being’s palm into a belief that you’re a person worth knowing.
  9. Follow-up: The act of re-connecting, ostensibly to determine if there’s interest in a prior offer or request but mostly to ensure that he or she has not forgotten your name.
  10. Human capital: A description of a person’s relationships in economic terms, i.e., removing all emotion or consideration of personal feelings.
  11. Lead generation: The process of gathering contact information for qualified business prospects. Note: In some organizational interpretations, “qualified” has been substituted with “any breathing.”
  12. Linkedin: (Proper noun) Facebook in pinstripes.
  13. Network (n.): Anyone you have ever met; or anyone who has ever met anyone you have met; or anyone who could meet anyone you have met or will meet.
  14. Network (v.): The act of trying to meet the aforementioned people.
  15. Relationship capital: (Modern) The value of one’s network in the marketplace, often a direct reflection of character as experienced by those who know you, which is why you wish you had a mulligan on those pictures from Pat’s bachelor(ette) party last year.
  16. Relationship web: A family tree in which nobody’s actually related, built on the premise that your contacts include the contacts of your network’s contacts.
  17. Schmoozing: Kibitzing with purpose. Compare: Rubbing elbows Schmoozing by those who are poor judges of anatomy.
  18. Warm introduction: A potential relationship facilitated through an existing relationship, in the hope of expanding your network. Note: Also known as one more favor you owe somebody.

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