In this age of the Internet, networking is still king. While a new school of thinking has come forth saying that these ways are dead and that you should focus solely and building your business, that simply isn’t true. The methods may have changed, but the importance is still there. Obviously, networking events, meet ups and the like are still an intricate part of the business world, as they should be. And these are truly invaluable if used correctly.
In the tech culture there is this pervasive feeling that networking is overrated and I’m not sure why. Some of the most successful people are also the people who can connect with other great individuals. And unless you’ve built Facebook, you have to go out of your way to find and connect with these people.
But the interesting part is that with the very technology I have spoken about, we can network in totally new ways. The countless amounts of networks you can access behind a computer allows for opportunities that have never been seen before. I’ve networked with people from all over the world, with all sorts of unique talents, simply by being aggressive behind a computer screen. If you’re in college now, and I assume many of you are, this shouldn’t be a foreign concept to you. Take those same skills you’ve been using on Facebook, Twitter, Path and Instagram, and apply it to your fields of professional interest. Now I’m not saying it’s good to be posting pictures of yourself going crazy at a party in a professional realm, what I’m saying is don’t be shy in the professional world as well.
The minute I decided to participate in professional discussions/netowrking on sites like linkedin, reddit, dribbble, and stack overflow, the better people I ended up interacting with. It’s tough as a young person, even if you’ve been dabbling in entrepreneurship, to jump in a professional discussion that’s outside of the realm of your friends. But let me tell you, it’s beneficial.
With all the networks online that exist now, there is no reason you shouldn’t be searching to build your contact list in places outside of your school or social networks. Build that professional network just like you build your business.
I tend to be a professional ‘lone wolf’. I like to take it all on myself. But I realized that my businesses weren’t growing the way that I wanted them to. Reaching out to people within my field was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made to date. The online networking I did even connected me with the co-founder of my current startup. He lives more than 5,000 miles away from me and we are building a business together. If that’s not an example of why online networking is great, I don’t know what is.
I agree that building your business is of first importance when it comes to entrepreneurship. But building the brand of ‘you’ is also extremely important for your long run professional career. If you build your own brand that people trust and want to associate with, it makes creating a business that people trust and want to associate with that much easier. All it takes is reaching out of your comfort zone and creating connections with people. The new age of networking is something few take advantage of. Building an empire behind your computer screen is easier than ever before. This was a lesson I had to learn and one I hope you take to heart as well.