Many people have different interpretations of ‘networking’, chatting with people from a different area or sector of work, simply meeting new people or the exchange of business cards and chit chat over a beverage. In many instances, this is a fair depiction of what it looks to be, but there is a deeper meaning than simply exchanging business cards and meeting someone new. Whether you are at a networking event to acquire new business, introduce yourself and meet other people, advertise yourself and/or your business at the end of the day, you should be there for a very specific reason. If you’re simply handing out as many business cards as possible- good for you but how many people did you truly engage and connect with on personal levels. Now, I’m not talking about sharing extremely confidential information, when I say personal level, I’m talking getting to know each other and making un-forced conversation- Building a Relationship.
When you build relationships, you are essentially building a base (foundation) with another person. What is more effective- handing out a bunch of business cards with the hopes of a follow up? or connecting with a few people and handing out cards to those you connected with? It seems like such an elementary concept, but you’d be surprised that people fail to acknowledge this concept. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the word ‘networking’ simply because sometimes I feel it has a negative connotation for just wanting something from someone “here’s my card call me if you need ___” (It can also be intimidating to some) When you’re building relationships you are making connections, but you are building enduring and mutually beneficial relationships. This concept builds off the theory where connecting with a few people in a room of 150 is better than trying to meet everyone and handing each a business card. You want to ensure you are building your personal brand and truly connecting with someone- there will be many more opportunities to meet new people, don’t try to do it at once.
Social Entrepreneurship is the phrase I like to use when I think of going out and meeting new people at ‘networking’ events. You represent yourself, the company that employs you and your colleagues. Excelling at this can enhance your career significantly once you’ve become successful at it, it’s an essential skill to possess. It isn’t about who you know, but who knows you- people like to do business with those who they can trust, act as a resource and help each other when in need. Go out there, meet new people- build relationships, and make a difference in your community. Relationships are vital to your career and can go a long way.
Relationships are the catalyst for success.
Coordinator, Young Professionals Network of Ontario