the grass is greener on the internet

Networking in the naughties
August 17, 2008, 11:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Networking. It’s one of those horrible buzzwords that is bandied about as another miracle business solution that will change your life as you know it. But I think that increasingly it is going back to the original meaning of the word, taken from the IT world.

Now don’t get me wrong; even from my limited business experience I can see that having a wide array of business contacts is extremely powerful. Having spent some time in Singapore, where the limited space means that ‘everyone knows everyone’, I’ve seen some amazing things happen just by the strength of those contacts and nothing else.

However, business networking is becoming comparable to its computer compatriot; impersonal, and capability-oriented. Have you ever been at a networking function and felt like everyone is immediately trying to estimate your value? What are your uses? What are your specifications like? Where can they fit you within the other devices in their network?

Nowhere is this more evident than at a ‘networking speed dating’ event. Apart from just having a ridiculously clumsy title, these events mean that interactions are pared down to name and the dubious subject of ‘so, what do you do?’. Actually remembering who you met? It can come down to looking at what order the business cards are in. When the novelty of these kind of events wears off, are they really exercises in greater productivity or just of little use?

Call me Asian, but I really believe you need to build relationships and not networks, and that takes time. Not just this, but don’t just network for the sake of networking – spend more time talking to people you’re actually interested in. They’re more likely to be the people you would want to work with and the resulting partnerships will be better.

With greater and greater emphasis being placed on networking, I wonder if it will go the same way as advertising. After all, networking is a bit like direct marketing for your personal brand – and with more events, more clutter, is it just going to get far too difficult to differentiate? You might have an important business title (product quality) and a memorable business card (company brochure) but unless you can present your value proposition in a new and creative way your target market won’t remember you the moment they take their eyes off you. The ‘Death of Networking’, perhaps? After all…they’ve probably seen 300 people today.

[What got me thinking about networking is the Australian Marketing Institute’s upcoming Marketing Week (“Forget what you know.” <– I see the point, but am still a little worried by this). Apart from a good opportunity to network within the industry I’ll be hoping to pin down an AMI rep and see what they think of Marketing magazine’s criticism that the professional body isn’t giving its members the support that they need…]


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great post.

If you do get hold of your AMI Rep and ask them about the criticism in Marketing magazine’s, please would you post their response?


Comment by Gordon Whitehead

My friends and I actually joke during corporate cocktail events and such that we’re “going to go and network with that person” etc.

Interesting post.

Comment by Zac Martin

Haha, I occasionally get asked, “As if you have time to party!” to which the standard response is, “No, I’m not partying… I’m networking!”

Comment by katherineliew

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