Want to Network? Me either.

June 26, 2015

I’ve been uncomfortable with it for awhile, but unable to articulate my feelings. It’s a buzz word, and it is everywhere – so I kept using it. But no more. I’ve made a decision to work “networking” out of my life and vocabulary.

Here’s why. It’s over-used and meaningless. What does it mean? “Network: a group of people or organizations that are closely connected and that work with each other.” Nothing in that definition seems very fun to me, but I am pretty sure most people expect their networking events to be fun.

Networking is loaded with expectations. If I am invited to networking event, I’m unlikely to attend. But if you invite me to have a glass of wine, or go to a book signing, or have dinner – I’m in! I think there are negative connotations around networking that make it unpleasing; the word evokes professional, work, business talk, and more work.

I’ve had friends in our industry tell me they would not attend a networking event. They’ve said to me, “I don’t network.” Which of course is not true, we all network – we just don’t always call it that. Hence my reason for wanting to refer to it differently so I’m being more inclusive.

We all love to spend time together, especially in the marine industry. And we enjoy doing business together. I’m not suggesting we stop doing what we refer to as networking, I’m suggesting we rethink it. Instead of using the word networking, tell me what to expect at your event. Will I get to connect with old friends? Will there be live music and a chance to meet the band? Invite me to come meet the new president of your company. Make it meaningful and give it meaning. Don’t tell people to come network – they may decide to do something fun instead.

As I work to rid my vocabulary and IBEX’s marketing material of networking, I’m interested in learning how the word affects you. When you read about a “networking event” do you get excited or do you roll eyes and groan? What are you expectations?

I’m relieved to have identified my thoughts about networking. Now I’d like to understand if I stand alone on this issue. Please share your thoughts with me. And please keep me on your invites lists.

-Kate Holden

IBEX Marketing Director/Sales