Relight the flame in business relationships

Life Hacks have published a great article entitled Let’s End Networking, Please, bemoaning the now cringe-worthy excess of networking events.

It’s a great antidote to the growing number of networking events in every industry even down to university, and argues that these events are now too cold and “explicitly manipulative”, where people only connect to get something they want, rather than building relationships.

Allen Gannet who writes the article says we cut ourselves short by only taking what we need from networking and that  ‘we create a false barrier that prevents connecting with them personally’.

While he doesn’t draw the link explicitly I’d say Twitter and other open social media may be both the cause and potential antidote to this situation.

On the one hand it has never been easier to ‘make a connection’.  With LinkedIn you could give someone only a one line reason to connect and bingo you’re in. Talk about not building a relationship.

On the other hand, there is a lot of talk about separating your personal and professional life on Twitter.  I’ve always felt uneasy about this, and maybe this article explains why.  If we maintain one universal persona on social networks we might achieve what Gannet is calling for, by communicated and networking with people with your own genuine voice.

Interestingly,when I try and explain social networking to anyone who wants to use it professionally, I always encourage them to maintain one account but to think of it like networking, in the sense that of course you’re going to be professional, and of course much of what you talk about will be related to your given industry. But also that, in the sense of the type of networking Gannet is calling for, you will also be friends with that person, you will ask how their family is, you’ll joke about the state of TV at the moment, you’ll admire their dress.  In really good, and let’s admit it, really effective networking all this happens. So why not on Twitter?

And to bring it full circle, many people DO already recognise this and do this on Twitter, so maybe its time we brought it back to face to face networking too.

This reminded me of one of the 10 commandments in the classic business book What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School which says “You can never have too many friends in business.”  Maybe it’s time to bring back that warmth.

And ultimately, as Gannet says, “If someone is not good enough to be friends with, then why do business with them?”


Thumbnail image: Greentechmedia on Flickr

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