Networking is a huge buzzword in business. According to Merriam-Webster, networking is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”.
When you think of a networking event, what do you think of? You’re probably walking into a room in a killer suit, and even though you don’t know anyone, you’ll have a deep conversation with someone that is going to change how you view business forever. You’ll exchange business cards, add each other on LinkedIn, and stay in touch for years to come. You’ll sip coffee and discuss ROIs and KPIs and SOPs.
If you’re really going to a stereotypical networking event where you don’t know anyone, none of those things are probably going to happen. Well, most likely you’ll walk away with a few new LinkedIn connections, but a year down the road you’ll probably forget where you met them to be completely honest.
It’s no wonder that networking can carry such negative connotations with it. Going into a room of people who you’re supposed to talk to can be downright intimidating. And like any time you meet someone new, a lot of the conversation is probably going to be surface-level small talk since you typically don’t jump into deep conversations with someone who was a complete stranger 5 minutes ago.
So is networking overrated?
Networking, as in standing around a room with people you don’t know attempting to just make connections, might be a little overrated, but networking as a whole definitely is not.
One thing that people don’t always talk about is the importance of networking within your company though. Building relationships with influential people in your office is a way better use of your time than trying to make a bunch of surface-level connections with strangers.
The people in your company are the ones who are going to make decisions about who gets promoted, who gets flexible work hours, who has to be let go during layoffs, etc. If you impress the right people, it can mean a lot more open doors for you down the line.
Networking is really all about building relationships, which is vital in business, so of course networking is important and not overrated. Just think about how you’re approaching networking and if you’re investing your time in valuable networking opportunities or not.
By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding