The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “networking” as: ‘the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business’.
When I hear people saying that they are “going to a networking event” I like the smirk to myself and throw a loaded question into the conversation. It typically sounds something like this – “what event are you going to?” They’ll answer with the name of the organization and usually the location of the event and then I drop the bomb on them and that goes like this: “Interesting… What were you hoping to get out of the event?”. This question typically educes the trance. A blank stare where they look at me like I’m from mars.
The point of my story is this – when people define networking as Mr. Webster does above they are attempting to cultivate productive relationships for employment or business. Or stated otherwise, developing deep relationships of know, like, and trust, so that one can be referred to qualified prospects and be in the right place at the right time.
If you agree with this definition and (more importantly) implementation of networking there is only one question left to ask yourself. Is the networking I’m currently engaged in really networking?