Networking seems to have become synonymous with speed networking, and I frequently attend events or read articles where people are exhorted “to network” which seems to mean exchanging lots of business cards.
I think this is poor advice, and encourages shallow communication. Of course I hope to meet new people at events, but you need to give yourself time to “connect”. Then it’s not only a real pleasure but it’s likely that we will meet again and stay in touch. This is more satisfying than collecting a lot of cards.
It’s also more effective at building genuine networks which are likely to deliver returns for my career and for my business. My business is all about helping people understand the importance of communication. More than 4 million people in Australia have at least a mild hearing loss and struggle in noisy situations. We try to help people understand the importance of maintaining their hearing and practising good listening techniques for effective communication.
It’s essential to appreciate the value of quiet one to one conversation, rather than racing around meeting as many people as possible. I have met some wonderful people through my networks, but we are talking about building relationships with people. This means listening and helping each other. Let’s not trivialise social communication. My advice to people early in their careers is to swap volume for quality of connections.