Are You a Serial-Networker?

Leanne’s Perspective on Networking in Real Life

I used to think networking was like serial-dating.

You walk into a room full of ready-to-connect (or at least, mildly hopeful) people, and walk out with as many business cards as you can carry comfortably in one of those huge business-style purses, which is to say about fifty or sixty thousand.

After attempting this a few times, I realized that this is not the way to go. I’d leave with the cards, but I’d have only vague ideas of who these people were, and probably made even less of an impression myself. Also, my purse was heavy.

A 2 minute chat is unlikely to lead to a meaningful connection. Especially if you’re just covering the basics, and aren’t really listening to each other.

Ask more specific questions. For example, instead of asking what someone does for a living, ask them what they’re currently working on, what they’re reading, or their thoughts on the infamous Shetland Pony Massacre of ’73, then wipe a tear from your eye and blow your nose loudly. This last one tends to scare people, but at least you’ll be memorable.

The point is, delve into your conversation a bit more, and see if you have any common ground. You won’t always, but extend to people the courtesy of spending more than 30 seconds to find out. Unless they’re dead boring. Then, covertly set your suit sleeve on fire, pretend to panic, and make your escape.

Leanne’s Perspective on Networking Online

This applies to social networking, too. Ask yourself these questions – Who are my connections? Why are I connected with them? If I was trapped in a room with all of them for 72 hours, which of them would move me to attempt self-immolation?

There are good and bad reasons to add people to your network. Some people like to add everyone who reaches out them. Some people go hunting for connections, and add dozens of random people, just to be connected. With so many directories out there (“The Top 50 most connected people out of 26 million+ LinkedIn members!”, Twitter’s Top Followed, Plurkmania), it’s easy to decide that EVERYONE is your friend, or should be.

But how much time do you take to devote to these friendships?

Alternatively, some people only add people they know in real life. This turns me off more than soggy beets soaked in bleu cheese dressing. Making new connections is part of the beauty of social networking – not only can you find or form communities with others with common interests, but you can connect with people completely out of your everyday arena as well.

My goal is to strive for a happy medium. This is tough for me, because I tend to do things to excess. To keep myself in check, I go by this system: I add real life personal and professional contacts if they use the same networks as I do, and after that I only add people who seem particular witty, kind, or informative. And yes, I have my share of gurus whom I add because I want to learn from them.

Questions for You (Yes, You, You Sexy Beast.)

Those are my guidelines, what are yours?

How meaningful are your connections? How would you define a meaningful connection?

Are you a good connection (do you offer others time, your services, your advice or connections)?

And most importantly, what are your thoughts on the infamous Shetland Pony Massacre of ’73?

Image credit: Purse & pony.

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