Networking, So Classic.

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I struggle at times to explain to my parents and some [ahem] older friends the world of social networking. Yes, there are such things as tweet-ups and yes, I do meet with people in person that I first met online. If you an avid user of these online tools this may seem very normal. If you are my father who doesn’t even have an email account, it’s not only foreign but also perhaps a bit frightening. There is a certain amount of distrust for him with the internet. Stories of children being abducted by people they met in chat rooms comes to mind. I realize that not everyone sees these online networks the same way I do.

It has been my experience that social networking is really not that different from traditional networking. It’s an old game but the tools and platform are just evolving. We meet people in the places we hang out, work, spend time, etc. So instead of hanging out at a local coffee shop, I’m spending my time on Twitter. There is etiquette to interacting with people. The rules of networking are still there. You meet people and build trust gradually.

So many of the people that I first meet online I’ve later met in person. I never feel as though I’m meeting a “stranger” for coffee or lunch. These are people that exist in my network already. Perhaps my friend has met them before or I’ve seen them at an event. I don’t want you to think that I don’t value meeting people in “real life.” In fact, I find it’s very important and part of what makes social media a great tool to assist in meeting new contacts in person.

It’s not just people like my parents who get confused on how social networking sites work. Students also get a mixed message. They are told they should be participating in social media because there are job offers, chances to meet professionals and other opportunities. This is true, however no one seems to follow up with the second part of that message. The rewards of social media are not for just being a member or participant of x, y, z site. You must be engaged and understand how the system works. The classic staples of networking still apply online. Focusing on relationships over time is so important.

What are your thoughts? Do you view more traditional networking the same way you view social networking sites? Is this typically a generational phenomenon in your opinion?


7 thoughts on “Networking, So Classic.

  1. I think the “abducted by someone they met in a chat room”
    stories have been overblown. I am not saying it doesn’t happen, however I am saying that the same people one might encounter in a chat room, are the same people one might encounter in a mall or park.

  2. I think you’re spot on. It’s an old game with a new set of golf clubs. The drivers are not made of wood anymore and the golf balls go further, but you must still get the little white ball in the hole.

    As it is with “Networking” – it’s still all about relationships.

    The generational piece is just technology challenged folks not wanting to be taught a new trick. it’s likely the VCR is difficult to operate as well…..

  3. @Leroy – Agreed, and I also think that those news stories are becoming less common.

    @theesuite – Thanks for the comment and yes my Dad does struggle with the TV remotes. My 13 yr old sister usually needs to setup the DVD player for him.

  4. I agree that it’s the “same game” with new tools. The change is that by moving networking to the online space there are many more opportunities.

  5. Spot on Hannah! It’s interesting that new media tools have even started to redefine networking inside large organizations. Where people use to meet at the more “traditional conversations at the water cooler” or even cigarette breaks, they are now internally twittering or even using things like SocialCast (in some larger organizations). What’s interesting about that is for the first time, companies can get real metrics on internal networking and how important it is to their operations…

    Great post and please keep at it!

  6. Hi Hannah,

    I think you make some good points about social networking. I was just writing about the fact that many of my friends don’t take advantage of new media. Part of it does depend on what line of work you’re in, but even more so I think it’s the fact that even young people view media as passive, and actively engaging is not part of their process yet.

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