The new (or maybe not so new) buzzword that you hear everyone chatting about these days is NETWORKING.
Everyone tells you the VALUE of networking. WHY you should network. HOW to network. The BEST places for networking. And on and on and on. So with everyone meeting everyone and chatting and talking and trading business cards and ideas and excitement and promises; how does this truly benefit the small business owner??
Lets step back a moment.
The online dictionary defines networking in several ways. This one, really seems to illustrate what I want to discuss:
/ˈnɛtˌwɜr kɪŋ/ Show Spelled [net-wur-king] Show IPA
a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest: Working mothers in the community
use networking to help themselves manage successfully.
/ˈnɛtˌwɜrk/ Show Spelled [net-wurk] Show IPA
any netlike combination of filaments, lines, veins, passages, or the like: a network of arteries
; a network of sewers under the city.
I really like the definition found here for NETWORK. It describes what I see as a living, breathing demonstration of how networking; works. Each knot in the net comprises of strands that are linking to other knots. All strands reach outwards, make a connection and reach outwards again seemingly without end. The net or network itself is made stronger by adding additional strands to each knot. And the network reaches further and further as each connection reaches another and yet another. Think of it like a fisherman’s net.
Get my picture?
While modern-day business writers often illustrate networking as a NEW idea and the NEWEST business must-do; it’s really a very, very old idea that our current society has spun to work with current lifestyles. Think back to the days of early settlers to North America. No electricity, no phones, no TV, NO INTERNET!! (gosh no, not that!!)
Business people had to share ideas with each other by talking. They formed networks with other business people in the same city. They would share information about their customers and news about the locals. If someone found out that the Jones were planning to celebrate their daughter’s wedding, the whole town would be a-buzz with the news. The business community would be busy preparing dresses, food, notices, singers, preacher etc. Every community event brought together the whole community. The result being that everyone benefitted. Business people were able to co-ordinate their efforts with their peers so that customers received the goods and services they needed. The network was successful, strong and provided for the community.
So, the next time you head out to attend a networking event; consider what you can share with other business people. What can you do to make the net stronger?? The old adage “you get what you give” is never more true than when you are part of a networking group or event.
Got a networking success story you’d like to share? Post it here!