The Networker vs. The Contact person
In this day and age where the importance of networking for doing business has become breaking news, we see that networking has been elevated to a trend status. Everyone is, one way or another into networking now and everyone gives a resounding YES when asked if they network.
Still It is worth mentioning that within the world of networking there seems to networking and Networking. I have observed that there is a significant difference between these 2 groups. There are the networkers-minor; those individuals who are networking because everyone else is doing it and they have heard that networking is the thing to do. These are the ones who very often make impersonal and scantily- clad profiles on online communities and then disappear. These are the ones who go to an offline event- never alone, always in the company of someone they know, to make a public display by talking to only the people they know. These are the ones who collect business cards and store them in the bottom left corner of their desk drawer and then forget about them. ( I will not handle the network bullies in this blog for they are altogether a different breed .)
These Socializers (often women) are at most, contact persons. Their pseudo-networking often has no depth, genuine interest or follow up and they are only there at most, to preen their feathers. While there's nothing wrong with socializing; the thing is that today, socializing alone without the effective use of social media as facilitator is no longer enough for the business person to leverage networking and create opportunities. Socializing alone and the Old Boys Clubs belong to the old style networking.
The real networkers on the other hand never stop. Here again I must make a distinction between Modern Networkers who "get" the knack of networking and make social media work for them and the rarer, enigmatic Naturalborn Networkers.
The latter see opportunity in every encounter, even in a brief conversation with a taxi driver. They are not aggressive in their approach or overly boisterous. They have a genuine curiosity towards other people and they never loose the childhood gift of Wonder. These are an unusual breed of people with a truly extraordinary knack of effortlessly making friends and acquaintances, building connections and keeping these contacts alive somehow.
These are the people that Malcolm Gladwell referred to in his book The Tipping Point as the Connectors. These are the ones who "live it", with or with out social media.
Which shoe fits you?
"If we build it, they will come".