I have talked a lot about the importance of networking over the years and even wrote a post about it called networking online. However my understanding of this phenomenon has changed in the past few years and I now realize that I completely misunderstood it in the beginning. Or at least I like my current understanding of it better.
The image I had of networking was to go to events and find the most influential people there and then try awkwardly to start a conversation with them and exchange cards. I thought that if I had shaken their hands, exchanged a few words and given them my card that I had thereby improved my network. But your network is not a collection of business cards and handshakes, it should consist of people that you know well and trust.
Today I have changed my approach and instead of trying awkwardly to meet the most influential people at an event I try to meet interesting individuals that I might want to hang out with. It is said that who you are is a reflection of the people that you surround yourself with. I want to become a successful entrepreneur so I want to surround myself with successful entrepreneurs and that is why I like going to events and meeting up with other entrepreneurs.
So my ideas of networking today consist of creating real connections and friendships with people that I respect and admire, people that I want to be more like. Hopefully we will be able to help each other improve both personally and in business.
Networking is about creating connections and friendships.