If you ask people to describe networking you will get a variety of responses, most often it sounds something like this, going to events where business people exchange business cards and talk business with one another. While indeed that is a good description of what a lot of networking events look like, it is not the only way that networking takes place. People get so hung up on the formal side of networking that they completely miss all the other opportunities to network. I personally spend far less time at networking events and far more time networking in ways that I enjoy.
Recently, I was invited to be part of #Social46. This is a group of social media minded people who have strong networks, they were asked to support the Super Bowl 2012 committee in welcoming guest and helping them out using social media. I was honored to be asked, and took advantage of the opportunity. Many of these are people I have heard of but never met in person, some I knew and have relationships with and still others I have never met online or offline. This is the kind of networking that I enjoy, a group of people bound together for a common cause.
It does not take long to build strong relationships with people who have a common cause because you are all working and supporting one another to achieve that cause. For this group there was the added excitement of being able to connect the city and the visitors, and being the first city to ever fully use social media in such a large event. I have a strong affinity for many of the participants, they are my role models on Social Media, and they are so giving of their time and efforts. These are the kind of people I want in my network, who I want to learn more about, and who I feel good about referring to others because their Givers Gain attitude make them so referrable.
Working with a small group of people for a common cause is often far more effective that going month after month to big networking events. Take a look a the networking that you are doing, how are you breaking out of the traditional mode and finding new ways to connect and build relationships? Share some of your ideas with us!