The conventional wisdom has it that networking events are a place to make contacts that will enhance your business success. If this is true then I have failed spectacularly – and am happy to have done so. The “what’s in it for me” mentality is one that I find repellant.
I am, however, a human being who loves meeting and talking to interesting people. Over the past few years I have met some amazing people, some of whom have helped establish and continue to support this magazine and other ventures, while others haven’t. Pretty much without exception everyone I have met has added to my life. And there we have it. The people I have met have added value to my life regardless of whether they have added value to my business.
I try not to use the word networking as it brings with it all the artificiality of swapping business cards and being forced to give endorsements to people you hardly know. Yet I do attend an extraordinary number of events that purport to increase my network and I am the best connected person I know. These two facts are not unconnected. I attend the events that I think will be interesting and I make lasting connections because I am genuinely interested in the people that I meet. Whether I make money out of the people I meet is, for me, not the crucial factor.
Yet I still see the old rules being touted, where networkers are encouraged to look at everyone they meet in terms of how they might be useful to their business. Women’s networking is far too often high heels, booze and power dressing. That is to say that women’s networking perfectly mirrors the male dynamic. It really is time to stop this nonsense. It no longer suits. And in a world where we should look very closely at the reasons for the current economic meltdown it is increasingly irrelevant. It is time to create a network that embraces values not gender, one that plays to the compassionate as well as the profit driven side of all of our natures.
I’m up for this challenge and am grateful that, through my network and the way that I have chosen to meet and interact with my fellow human beings, that I have met like-minded people to work with.