I get asked all the time to define networking. I usually start with what networking is not. (See posting November 08, Networking: How Not To….)
I suppose the one I left off the original list was:
• Networking is not a time to be insincere (don’t offer your card if you don’t want to connect!).
That’s key - you have to want to connect. Actually, you also should like people as a general rule…but that’s for another day.
It’s no fun for anyone to stagger back to their rolodex (mine is a lunch pail) clutching a plastic wine glass and business cards that you don’t remember why you took them or the faces of who gave them.
What is networking?
My latest definition: it’s about finding people you like with whom you feel comfortable asking for or giving information. These people become your community, your network.
By that definition, that’s how you find both friends and colleagues. The difference? You don’t have to bring everyone in your network home for dinner - that’s reserved for those who become friends. You should be happy to sit through a coffee with the remainder in a public place.
Networking is simply linking your relationships as a larger personal community.