net.work.ing

an article by: Pamela Bosworth

Networking: “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business” (Merriam-Webster online).

When I first set out to write an article about networking I never considered social media to be something I would write about. After all, in my generation, the term networking was most often associated with some Chamber of Commerce activity that typically occurred in the early afternoon between leaving your job and before arriving home.  Networking meant showing up, ”working the room”, and trying to stay away from the food table so as not to spoil your appetite for supper. Networkers always remembered to take plenty of business cards with them and they expected to come away with a handful as well. I can even remember times when I took a change of clothes with me to work realizing that creating that first impression was so very important and wanting to look like a refreshingly professional and polished networker.  Many readers of this article, depending upon age, may not be at all familiar with networking as I have just described it. One such group would be the generation known as Millennials.

Media Daily News reports that “around 10,000 millennials turn 21 every day in American right now, and by some estimates there are already 40 million millennials in the workforce” (Shore) .  For the record, millennials are young people born approximately between the years 1978 and 1992.  Many people think that baby-boomers (which is my generation), are the largest living generation.  But in fact, these millennials make up the largest generation today and networking for them takes place in a social media platform.

Recently, I completed a course at Trevecca Nazarene University, entitled,  Cultivating Networks & Fundraising (2013). Again, I had no idea that the study would focus on social media.  However, I soon discovered that social media platforms such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, Second Life, and Twitter; are just a few of the current applications that continue to drive networking in new and often unsettling ways – especially for the non-profits scurrying to keep up.

So, as we will see, while the process of networking has changed, I believe that the fundamental purpose remains the same – making connections.  And, before we jump off into looking at the changes in networking, non-profits and technology, I think it is important to emphasize the connection between networking and building relationships.

Making a connection with other people is the first step in building a relationship. My ideal setting for connecting and getting to know people is over a cup of coffee.  Leonard Sweet wrote a book called, The Gospel According To Starbucks. In his book, Sweet states, “What is it people want most?  What is it we all are searching for most desperately?  The answer is one word with a million meanings: connectedness” (Sweet 129).

Getting connected is now an instant and constant possibility.  It can still occur around a food table or over a cup of coffee, but now even more readily through a Tweet or Facebook message.  I invite you to visit our website during this month, as we continue to look at the impact that social media is having on networking, non-profits, and techology.  I suspect we will discover that cultivating relationships is just as, if not more, important because of the new avenues of social media networking.

 

Sources cited:

Shore, Nick. “Media Daily News -Turning On The “No-Collar” Workforce.” 15 March 2012. Media Post Publications. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/search/?q=Turning+On+The+%22No-Collar%22+Workforce&type=#axzz2XRDCrSrb. June 2013.

Sweet, Leonard. The Gospel According To Starbucks. 2007.

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