I was at a recent Likeminds networking event in London where we were talking in a group about what networking is, what it means and different approaches to it.
Who was there
- Drew from Likeminds @drewellis
- Andrew Gerard from Likeminds @andrewgerrard
- Heli from Likeminds @latt3girl
- Malcolm from 12boxes @Malcolm12boxes
- Toni from Flockr @tonihopponen
- Delfin from 1000 heads(I think) @DJVassallo
- Mark Shaw @markshaw
amongst others. All good people doing interesting stuff that you should check out.
Anyway, when we were talking, I shared that I am not a fan of open networking. You know the idea that you go along to an event that is full of people that you just don’t know and don’t know where to start. Know what I mean? However, in contrast to those type of situations, I do consider myself a pretty good networker in that I love to meet you people (in the right context) and ‘connect the dots’ between them and other people that I know.
Further along in the conversation, I suggested that we should try and network in a way that is true to ourselves. To illustrate what I meant I shared the following story:
“Imagine that you go to a party and that you arrive at the threshold of the room or place where the party is being held. Normally, people have one of three reactions or are one of three types of people:
- The first sees all of these people in front of them and thinks ‘Great!’ and proceeds to go and introduce themselves to the first people that they come across;
- The second reaches the threshold of the party and faced with a sea of people scans the room looking for a familiar face that they can connect with before start to meet new people; and
- The third reaches the threshold and their face pales at the sight of the sea of people in front of them. So, they locate the bar and head over there to get themselves a drink before facing the room. They do this for 2 reasons: one, the drink is a prop and a bit about ‘Dutch Courage‘ and there is a possibility that they’ll meet other people like them at the bar where it will be easier to strike up a conversation one on one.
Myself, I’m a combination of 2 and 3 but mostly 3.
At the end of the story, I also reflected that I believe that life is social and we are all social beings. Therefore, networking is where we learn about ourselves (as social beings) in a business context.
What do you think? Hocum? Or, do you network to your strengths?