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Everyday Places to Start Networking Face-to-Face

Everyday Places to Start Networking Face-to-Face

By Deborah Sweeney

Is it possible to connect on an organic level anymore when it comes to networking?

I definitely think so. But what I also believe is the word “networking” itself conjures up a painful visual image, both in an offline and online context that makes it difficult for many to get the most out of it. In person, networking can be a stiff affair, peppered by the first awkward ten minutes in a full room of people where the coat has been checked in, the name tag is on, and making the first move to introduce yourself to virtually anyone new can be extremely nerve-wracking, even with a complimentary glass of wine to help curb the butterflies.

Other times networking is viewed as a race – like a business version of “The Hunger Games” where the attendant enters with one thing and one thing only on their mind: collecting business cards and getting as many of their own out to the most prominent people there. Beyond fear and treating the event as a competition, networking nights often leave those attending in the same comfort zone they arrived in: see a person you know, spend the majority of the night by their side, and meet a few new people but not nearly as many as you hoped had you decided to branch off early and look solo.

In switching to online networking, this is viewed as less painful to conduct business on because it lacks the awkward moments of face-to-face encounters. In a wonderful infographic on visual.ly on the 100 Social Networking Statistics & Facts in 2012, 40% polled stated that they socialized more online than they did face-to-face. And why wouldn’t they, when it was also mentioned that there were more devices connected to the internet than they were people on Earth? When all of the business cards have been dumped out on the table, the LinkedIn requests sent out, and the acceptances emailed back, how often does one go back and check in on those that they’ve connected with on LinkedIn? A person could be looking to break into the same company as a distant LinkedIn pal only to message them and discover they aren’t even with the same company anymore but have yet to update that portion of their profile.

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