When a friend forwarded me Allen Gannett’s post titled Let’s End Networking, Please, my first thought was, ‘I can’t stop networking, that’s where I get all of my business!’ But once I got past the title and read the post, I realized that Allen makes some great points.
The main point of Allen’s post is we need to start treating people as people – not potential business transactions. When we meet new people (in any environment), we should think of them as potential friends and partners we can share and build ideas with.
Traditional networking – just passing out business cards and collecting as many names as possible – needs to go by the wayside. We live in a technology driven, generation Y dominant world where our separation from work and home is becoming smaller and smaller, so why do we need to keep our professional and personal relationships so separate?
There shouldn’t be barriers between professional and personal relationships
Some of this stems from our general awkwardness around professional relationships. We tend to keep the people who we meet through work in a bucket we call “professional relationships.” We create a false barrier that prevents connecting with them personally, other than idle banter at the start of a conference call.
In fact, the people you meet through work are perhaps your best pool of potential friends. You have a shared interest with them, spending a substantial part of your day working on similar problems. Placing them off limits as friends because they are “work contacts” is a false and unnecessary restriction.
I agree wholeheartedly. We spend hours on end collaborating with those we work with, people that we typically like very much and share mutual interests with. But at the end of the workday, we say good-bye and go spend time with our personal friends.
Are Your Professional Contacts Your Friends?
If you don’t care for those that you work with, maybe you should be thinking about a job or career change. Life’s too short to do business with people you don’t like! But if you enjoy your co-workers and business colleagues, I say drop the barriers and make the relationship stronger. Throughout my career, I have met some of my closest friends (and even my husband!) at work and other business networking events.
So stop networking and start looking for opportunities to create new relationships with interesting people. You’ll create a richer personal life – and you’ll get more business, too!
I want to send a special thank you to @spatten (a great friend that I met through work) for showing me this post and for continuing to help me think outside the box.
Until next time – go sell some stuff!