Networking…it is a Changin’

Networking…it is a Changin’

What is it with networking that can create an emotion of anxiety and excitement?  Anxiety for some because they aren’t sure what to say, what to do or, well, because they just don’t want to engage.  Then there are those that thrive in the environment.  I’ve witnessed all types and, frankly, have been all types.

Recently what I’ve come to realize is that the Chamber of Commerce type of networking events with the breakfast meetings, luncheons and ribbon cuttings are not holding my attention or interest.  I’m yielding to this exponentially expanding, “world is flat” social networking environment that is all the rage. A rage not a fad because we’re only just seeing the beginning.

In a matter of minutes, those looking to engage can go from being a passive observer to a full-fledged member.  For anyone just dipping their toe into the social waters, here’s a tip…you’re not the first, you won’t be the last and there’s a whole bunch of folks willing to help you out.  Whew, a relief I know…it was for me.

As I’ve moved from dipping my toe to now seeking out opportunities to learn, do and become more involved, I’ve never felt any judgment from others that have paved the way, but instead have been greeted with messages of “welcome,” “glad to see you,” “here’s what you need to do,” and “we’ve been waiting for you.”  An interesting change for anyone coming from the corporate side of “I got where I got today because of MY dedication and MY hard work.”  That’s not the story of today.

Today is about engaging in the conversation and speaking directly to our audiences through communications channels that never sleep.  What’s even more inspiring is what you learn about each other personally and professionally.  We each become more open, share more and banter online in a fashion that’s building real relationships.  And during those occasions when the world of “old” networking and “new” meet, your online communication serves as the foundation for in-person discussion moving you past the routine “how’s the weather” questions to substantial and more meaningful conversation.

For public relations professionals, it’s a perfect playground ready for our interaction and authentic involvement.  It’s the new networking.  Get out and get dirty! 

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