I’m not at all opposed to online networking – I use it all the time to build relationships, but no matter what medium you use to connect with people, it’s not about CONTACTS, but meaningful and lasting CONNECTIONS. It’s ALWAYS about being social. So maybe I don’t get it.
“Social networking” is the apparent standard description of online networking. But how is it that “social networking” is somehow just an online thing? I get business from my neighbors, my family, my bicyling friends, my golf friends, my business friends, my clients, and from people I meet in a restaurant, as well as from people on Twitter and Facebook.
“SOCIAL” networking is a great idea, in fact it’s the only way to network, by being social, not salesy – making friends and meeting needs. But most people who do offline or online networking aren’t social about it at all. Most networking opportunities are simply a place to collect business cards and try to sell things to people, which is why most serious business people with a true network and lasting connections don’t show up at networking events.
They’re too business doing real social networking – playing golf with a friend, hosting a small and intimate wine tasting at their house, having a cup of coffee with a few business associates, riding a bike with a half dozen others, or meeting with their very committed referral network. And in all this, their objective is to serve people and meet THEIR needs, which is the opposite of most classic networking strategies.
When truly social business people move online, they have no interest in networking, but in building a network, and they don’t focus on contacts, but on lasting connections. Twitter and Facebook look the same to them as a cup of coffee with a few friends – they’re focused on trying to serve others and see how they can push them forward, not on selling things to everyone that says hello.
So I’m confused. If “social networking” is something you do online, then what is connecting a friend with a potential employee for her, or meeting someone over a cup of coffee – is that “unsocial networking”?
The communications medium is not the magic. The willingness to serve other people where they are at, not where I want them to be, and to get them to their goals are the keys to the business kingdom. No matter what the medium, I will get farther by serving people than selling to them.
I can’t bring myself to call either online or offline networking “social networking” because it implies there are types of good networking that aren’t social. If people don’t like me, they won’t buy from me. What part of building a network SHOULDN’T be social? Maybe I just don’t get it.