More Connecting, Less Networking

The other day I was lucky enough to join about 10 people in the industry for drinks and dinner in NYC. The group had a range of experiences and backgrounds, but as with anyone who works in the industry, we were all connected by similar struggles and nuances of working in this thing called social. The conversation flowed freely and it was hard to believe that this was the first time we had all met collectively IRL (“in real life”).

This meeting all started with a simple tweet.

And THIS is a great example of why I love Twitter. As an introvert, it has bridged a gap for me. It has allowed me to reach out to people in a way that I’m comfortable. With Twitter, I can build relationships online, and then take them offline… just like we did that night in NYC.

I felt energized after the dinner and drinks. It’s refreshing to be around people who get what you do and understand the struggles of working in social and digital (yes, we do more than tweet for a living). It wasn’t a meeting about “what can you do for me” but genuinely about “getting to know everyone”.

After meeting everyone in person, it would be easy to recommend and connect them to others in the industry if they ever needed it.

This meet-up reminded me of the importance of connecting and building bridges versus asking, taking and networking. This digital world opens up doors to people you admire in the industry, from peers to CEO, but you have to bridge relationships the right way. Too often I see or hear emails being sent to people in the industry that simply say, “I love sports and want a job in it”.

Let’s get one thing straight: No one in this industry will give you a job or reference with a cold call email like that.

Whether you’re looking for your first job out of school or making a transition, you can’t abuse the tools we’ve been given to connect. Relationships open doors, not cold call emails. Reach out the right way.

Reaching out the right way means emailing with intention and not sending broad questions or simply asking for a job. It means speaking up on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to build connections and add perspective. It means connecting in person when you travel for work and building actual relationships… before you need that job.

The other night in NYC was a great reminder of the difference between connecting and networking, along with the power we have to build some awesome bridges with one single tweet. Let’s practice more connecting, less networking and we’ll all win.

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