Entire industries have formed to facilitate networking. Industry associations, boards of trade, chambers of commerce, and a host of business networking groups all have a clear mandate to bring people together and support networking.
But who has the time for all these events anymore?
The era of networking events has passed. Sure there are still lots of events happening every week, but old habits die hard. What we really need are relationships, not more connections.
Contacts are cheap
In the 90s, the pre-social media days, face-to-face networking was an essential activity for business owners and sales people. That’s how they met people, maintained their networks and kept their name top of mind.
The tables have turned. Contacts are cheap.
Every social media platform is encouraging its users to grow their connections. LinkedIn offers, “People You May Know.” Twitter recommends, “Who To Follow.” Facebook asks, “Find More Friends.”
Social networking sites lead you to connect with as many people as possible.
You don’t need to “work the room” to find and meet a few new people. Social media is offering up interesting people to meet and connect with every single day.
Time is at an all time premium
Networking events are time consuming.
Not only do you have to commit to an hour or two to participate in the event, you also have to budget for travel time and delays. A luncheon can chew up a third of your day. Who has time for that?
Businesses operate at breakneck speeds. We are all overwhelmed with deadlines and responsibilities, and hanging out at a networking event to meet a bunch of consultants, lawyers and financial advisors is probably not the most productive use of your time.
People are looking for more effective ways to spend their time, and networking events are pretty low on the list.
We want relationships, not connections
Contacts are cheap, but relationships are not.
In a sea of connections, we are all looking for ways to break through the clutter, and develop lasting relationships. We’re looking to connect with real people, and bring each other real value.
Instead of wasting time at networking events to meet a few more people, be proactive. Look through all the connections you already have, and select 10 people you want to know better.
Now pick up the phone. Book a meeting, and have a conversation. Get to know each of them more deeply.
You will immediately differentiate yourself when you focus on individuals, and grow meaningful relationships.