Time’s past networking meant attending an event (In person) and carefully spreading your time across a room of ‘like-minded’ individuals, productive if everyone in the room was your target networking pool, but this was and still isn't always the case. Two hours and a cup of coffee in a room of fifty doesn't always ensure your time is spent most valuable it is easy to see why people have turned to their computers.
Enter social media: In May 2003 LinkedIn was launched, the birth of tweeting was a momentous occasion in July 2006 and in September 2006 we saw Facebook open its doors to anyone thirteen plus, these leaders have quickly been followed by many ‘networking’ sites specific to all sectors!
So what great things does this do for us professionally? Now instead of lunching with a room full of contemporaries whilst trying to decide where your time is best spent you can scroll down your computer screen scanning updates and job titles. If someone comments on an article your wrote, great, your connected – suddenly their in your ‘network’.
It has been constantly debated and predicted that recruitment consultancy’s will soon be a thing of the past, with thanks to the ease of social media – a sentiment I don’t happen to agree with for reasons this post wont explore, but are we to predict that networking events are set to go the same way? Will we watch conferences through our computer screens? Network only through the stratosphere / abyss?
It is a given that Social Media has changed the way we interact, it has been inherent in expanding our ‘networking’ pool but are we forgetting how to TALK to each other? To interact?
I recently attended a breakfast seminar and had the pleasure of spending my time with an individual who would probably not sit in my ‘like-minded networking’ pool, the best part of an hour was focused on this lady’s new venture, an artist who was working with light perception. This conversation probably did little to enhance my ‘business career’; like-wise I doubt I shed any light (excuse the pun) on her artistic venture, but personally I found her ideas fascinating, I enjoyed our conversation, I was smiling, I was inspired!
I am an avid social media user, and I’m constantly in awe of our technological advances, you will find me blogging, updating, tweeting and using Graph Search when it’s launched. The fact that we can read the ideas, thoughts and suggestions of others across the globe is fantastic and certainly useful in our own development. That said you will also find me chatting away to people over lunch or coffee, one-to-one or as part of a larger group because nothing can beat the personal touch and when my next-door neighbor switches jobs and I find out through my LinkedIn updates I have to ask – Should we be spending a little less time behind the computer screen and a little more time talking?