In reply to Dave Clarke’s ‘Networking is not a numbers game’ blog post, I completely agree with his view that networking is not about “meeting as many different people as possible,” it’s about “building strong relationships with a smaller number of people.”
There’s a strange group of beings commonly referred to as ‘serial networkers’ who go to as many different events collecting a mountain of business cards (3/4’s of which you do nothing with).
Attention serial networkers; you are not grasping this game!
Similar to these human serial networkers are the online serial networkers. I’m talking LinkedIn. I bet everyone gets at least one complete stranger a week trying to ‘invite them to connect’ who have near/over 500 connections. What do you think you’re doing?! Would you add these complete strangers to your personal Facebook account as ‘friends’? No! Well, in some cases even that’s debateable! Would you invite these people to your birthday party where you play musical chairs? No!
My reaction to online serial networkers: I haven’t ever met you, spoken to you, emailed you or have anything in common with you or your field of work and in some cases I’m not even on the same continent as you so I’m afraid I am not ‘connecting’ with you.
Attention online serial networkers: strangers are not friends. If I don’t know you, I am not your friend (until you buy me a drink and we establish a conversation). And even if you do manage to come across the weaklings who do accept to ‘connect’ with you online, if you’ve still never met them this doesn’t automatically make you friends!
True story: I’ve actually been to an event where the speaker proudly declared they had over 500 ‘friends’ on LinkedIn… And I quote, “friends.”
Going back to my response to Clarke’s blog post, I have one slight addition. Clarke recommends focussing on a smaller group of people who you build strong relationships with and rely on to bring new referrals. Although this is true, you should maintain a balance and not rely too heavily on your strong connections. Keep going to networking events and keep meeting new people, just don’t overdo it! Simply relying on your contacts to refer you is not sustainable. These contacts aren’t referring you every day, every week, so you need some other way to bring in new relationships.
I call it; progressive networking.
Nearly everything in life requires balance so why should networking be any different?
Definition of a progressive networker: person who develops their relationships gradually.
Don’t be a serial networker, be a progressive networker!