Networking is as old as humanity. Tapping into the knowledge or people in your social or professional circles, asking for a recommendation when you need something doing has been going on since time immemorial.
That said, business networking as we know it today probably started in its rawest form with the industrial revolution in the 18th century, and evolved over the years into the multitude of opportunities we have today.
When I was younger, I remember relatives and family friends joining the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, or maybe the Masons. Others did business on the golf course, some on a Saturday afternoon watching football or rugby.
Nowadays, we’re spoilt for choice, and if we really wanted to, we could network with fellow members of the business community from the start of our day, to the end of it. You can do it in person, and meet people face to face, or you do it all online – the opportunities are endless; whatever takes your fancy.
I love networking. I do it over breakfast; with a coffee and a slice of cake mid-morning, and with a bite to eat and sometimes a pint after work. But more than anything else, I enjoy it over lunch.
For me, it’s a very agreeable way of spending the lunch break. There’s no getting up at silly o’clock, nor being late home because you felt the need to go and mingle. Lunchtime networking splits your day, and doesn’t impinge on your family life or leisure time.
I’m biased, but this is my kind of networking. Indeed, I call it ‘Networking for Grown Ups’, and that’s with absolutely no disrespect to the other networking events that take place week in, week out, throughout Northamptonshire.
But not everyone likes the structured format of some groups, nor to they wish to commit themselves by signing up for a membership, or stand before of large gathering and try to explain their business in the space of 60 seconds. It works for some, but not all – many people just like to chat, make connections, and to know each other, and build mutually beneficial relationships which can last for years.
And I say that from a position of strength, because my networking lunches are always busy; not just that, the feedback never ceases to be anything but encouraging.
Sure, I give people the opportunity to promote a forthcoming event, or even their regular networking group, because, as I say, I totally buy into the value of networking. But I offer something different, and not only that, the food’s delicious at both venues!
As I said at the start of this blog, networking is probably as old as humanity. And you know what: it’s still the best way to make connections and nurture great contacts.
See you on a Friday