MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Why is Networking a 'Dirty' Word?

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 01, 2009

Networking.  What a loaded term. 

Many people have an irrational response when they hear this term.  Combine that with the term “social” and the reaction is more exaggerated.   Dictionary.com defines networking is defined as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest”  There are some who consider networking to be a social activity with no measurable benefit.  There are others who consider networking life’s blood.    Either way, by its very nature ,networking is social and it is valuable.

If you mention social networking in an enterprise environment, most immediate thoughts lean towards 3rd party or public social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  A few more seconds may pass and LinkedIn and Plaxo will come to mind.  They, at least, are business centric.  However, the first reaction is, social networking is a distraction to accomplishing your everyday work tasks.  Many executives fear decreased productivity as they imagine employees spending hours on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter.

I would disagree.  Networking for mutual benefit has been going on for ages.  Cavemen communicated and shared information through the use of rudimentary sketches.  Seasoned sales professionals use the golf course and favorite lunch spot to solidify business relationships.  World leaders convene to address political, economic and ecological concerns regularly.  Aren’t these all forms of networking?  It is only when we add that word “social” that we think it is personal.  Instead we should think of social as defining the platform.  Social networking is simply networking enabled by platforms that leverage the internet.

We must remember why we network. 

We network to connect.   We connect for knowledge.  We connect for a sense of community.  We network within our companies to understand  what roles others play.  We want to understand when new positions may be available.  We want others to know our ambitions.  We want to find answers to questions about new products, new technology, market trends and more.    We seek interaction.  In company environments that are increasingly geographically dispersed and include office workers and telecommuters, we seek new, innovative ways to connect to our peers.

We network outside the company to drive business, to discover valuable business partners, to leverage complementary products and/or services.  Social networking platforms can be adapted for enterprise use.  Many platforms are used externally already, with more options and uses being implemented every day.  Blogs, wikis, tweets, forums and microsites are used to create communities addressing customer requirements for product information and support. 

The goal is to keep it all in perspective.

Networking, old school or social, is all about how we discover, find and access individuals with knowledge.  As I commence this new adventure called MAD Perspectives, networking is a key to gathering information and making contacts for the business.


This is my perspective, what's your perspective?

[1] Dictionary.com