I’ve observed in recent years that many professionals became obsessed with networking. These are the people who constantly participate in conferences, meetups and other kinds of networking events. They like to collect business cards and feel excited whenever they connect to other professionals on LinkedIn.
I must say that in the past I also was a networking enthusiast. However after investing lots of time and effort into growing my network, I finally understood that this approach was not producing the results that I expected. My goal was to have more opportunities, but instead I was losing my focus.
It is very easy to meet new people, exchange business cards and create a connection. However, it is much more difficult to keep in touch with all these people over time. The natural tendency is to simply stop having any kind of interaction with our new contacts until we completely forget about each other.
To confirm this point, we just need to do a simple exercise. Do you have a business cards collection? Please select one of them randomly and answer these questions:
- Do you remember where did you meet this person? Do you remember in which circumstances did you meet?
- Did someone introduce you to this person? Do you remember who introduced you?
- Do you remember the face of this person? Would you be able to recognize him/her in the street?
- Did you ever communicate with this person? Do you remember when was your last interaction?
- If you would see the name of this person somewhere else, would you remember that you once met and exchanged business cards?
If you don’t keep a business cards collection, you could ask the same questions about your contacts on LinkedIn. Actually, I’ve witnessed more than once the following situation which is quite funny:
Two people meet on a networking event. After a few minutes of conversation, one of them says: “Let’s connect on LinkedIn! What is your name?” Then he opens his LinkedIn app and searches for the profile of his new contact… when he discovers: “Oh! We are already connected!”
If this has happened to you, you can be sure that you have been doing too much networking recently.
Focus on Your Reputation
In general the goal of networking is to create new opportunities. These may be business opportunities, partnership opportunities or job opportunities. But in my opinion what really creates new opportunities is our reputation.
Having a good reputation means that:
- People will remember us. They will remember us for many years since we had our last interaction.
- People will recommend us. They will introduce us to their own contacts whenever they think we may contribute.
- People will constantly offer us new opportunities. They will invite us when they have a job opening, or when they need a partner or an adviser.
In other words, if you have a good reputation your name will be present even if you are not physically present. People will mention you in the right context, at the right places and at the right times.
There are many good articles and books about how to build your reputation. It is certainly something that requires lots of time, effort and dedication. But it will bring you much better results than meeting random people in networking events.
What do you think? Do you agree? What has been your own experience? Please share with us in the comments below.