I have used this word alot lately, but I’m really beginning to think that it has lost its meaning and power.
What word, might you ask?
I began to reflect on my usage of the word after an interview with Success Formula Monique N. Caston. Monique pointed out that many times when she meets people at happy hours or networking events, they are not in a position to truly help others get new opportunities or help people get to the next level. Now, of course you do not have to GET something from socializing with people, but that’s exactly why I think the term networking has lost its value. Most of the time when we are “networking”, we are actually just socializing.
I think the concept of networking is meant to be an intentional interaction geared towards meeting a person or people who you feel have something that can help you to advance a certain aspect of your life. The overuse of the word networking implies that, as a society, we are intentionally looking to GET something out of our interactions with people instead of just enjoying their company i.e. socializing.
The word “social networking” was added to our vocabulary to further explain the difference between regular networking (business-oriented) and networking solely focused on increasing people resources. Although I appreciate this distinction, I think my irritation is actually rooted in the word “networking” in play and/or action.
Often people have “networking” events and nothing about the atmosphere promotes meeting new people. Effective networking is rooted in courage and humility: be courageous enough to meet new people and engage with them, yet humble enough to allow people in your space.
Below are a few suggestions on how to be more intentional with your networking events
– Use colored wrist bands to distinguish fields, interests, or another aspect that will encourage people to connect. For example, all people in marketing may have on yellow wrist bands. I could easily decide if I wanted to connect with the people wearing those bands.
– Speed networking- It may take a certain type of person to enjoy this, but speed networking for 30 minutes of your event can ensure that your guests have the OPPORTUNITY to meet new people.
For individuals attending networking events I suggest the following:
– Put your best foot forward- even if you are arriving to the event directly after work or after a day out with the kids, you want to make sure that you portray an image of effortlessness. Nobody wants to be drugged down by your negative energy or the perception that you do not want to be present.
– Make a commitment at the event AND do it right there (i.e. I’m going to have my coworker contact you; email your co-worker on your smart phone at that moment)
What are some of your ideas on how to effectively increasing professional networking events and opportunities? How do you feel about networking with people who may not have “power”?
Below is the link to a site that helps young professionals plan the best networking events.