Networking is a skill that should be thought of as a reciprocal process whereby the purpose of meeting someone is to share information, resources, and ideas to help get you where you need to go next.
According to Cheri Hill, CEO of Sage International, Inc.—who discussed the topic of “Power Networking” at today’s Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association luncheon—networking is not about working a room and shaking as many hands as possible. It’s not about exchanging as many business cards as fast as you can, and it’s certainly not about trying to sell something. Below is a video interview with Cheri discussing more on this concept:
From a business standpoint, networking is essential for growing a company and its resources. As the CEO of a company who has helped work to establish over 20,000 businesses, Cheri recommends that professionals should take the time to get to know their ideal customer so that they can obtain a better picture of what they hope to achieve through networking. By growing your network, you not only amplify your reach, but expand your ability to help and support people.
Enter Social Networking
While networking in person is ideal, the migration toward social networking cannot be ignored. From a recent article in Fortune Magazine entitled “The Real Way to Build a Social Network” (which provides an overview of Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha’s 2012 book The Start-Up of You), the author writes:
Many people are turned off by the topic of networking. They think it’s slimy, inauthentic. Picture the consummate networker: a high-energy fast talker who collects as many business cards as he can and attends mixers sporting slicked-back hair. Or the overambitious college kid who frantically e-mails alumni, schmoozes with the board of trustees, and adds anyone he’s ever met as an online friend. Such people are drunk on networking Kool-Aid — and are looking at a potentially nasty hangover.
The article also goes on to mention that Dale Carnegie’s idea of “winning” friends is a misnomer, and that building a strong social network not only requires genuine, authentic interaction, but begins with the people you know best as opposed to the ones who are “out there” at the cocktail parties and such. He writes that people’s extended networks are frequently larger than they realize, which is why an early tagline at LinkedIn was “Your network is bigger than you think.”
In addition to the above-mentioned article and book, below are a couple of reads I would recommend for finding and growing your professional network online:
- How to Attract the Right Social Media Followers for Your Business
- 5 Rules for Building a Strong Network Via Social Media
- 13 Brands Using LinkedIn Company Page Features the Right Way
Now it’s your turn! Do you think social media has replaced the need for in-person networking in certain cases? How has your concept of networking changed over the past five years with the advent of increased social media usage? Do you follow any specific rules of engagement when it comes to networking? Do you think “old school” networking (the inauthentic kind) still has its place in some situations?