I was never a big fan of networking and networking events. For some reason I just don't like meeting strangers.
It's always the same type of people hunting down the same type of people. You check boxes and once you know what box to put someone into you move on.
You tell the same story over and over again. And hear the same stories over and over again. At the end of the day you might have a few business cards and might have had a few interesting conversations. But that's usually about it.
Unless you're someone important then you'll have hundreds of people chasing you down and hundreds of business cards you don't really care about.
For me personally, it's a waste of time. Sure, I don't like networking. That might be the reason why I suck at it. That might be the reason why most of us suck at it.
It's also not very scalable.
You meet and talk to maybe 5-7 people per event. Maybe more. Depends on how fast you are at putting people into boxes.
And I don't blame them. I'd also prefer being at home with my wife and kids if I had some, instead of hunting down people I don't care about just because someone higher up in the hierarchy told me to do so.
I for myself more or less gave up networking. At least the traditional way of networking.
What I do instead is to put my thoughts online for everyone to read (and recently also to listen to and to watch). It's a lot more scalable. You can reach a lot more people like that. For me personally, it turned out to be a great way of networking.
Will it work for you? I don't know. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. But it's worth trying.
Right now, every article I post online is seen by a few hundred people. And out of these few hundred people maybe one or two will follow up. Some of them I will meet. Some of them I will have skype calls with. And some of them will be lost in my LinkedIn contacts. But it doesn't matter.
What matters is to get the conversation going. To take the first step of getting to know each other.
Sure, nothing beats meeting someone in real life. And this networking at scale is just a first step. What should follow next is a quick skype call, a meeting or whatever, to bring it to the next level (if it brings value to both parties).
The good thing about publishing your thoughts online is that they'll be out there forever. Everybody can read them whenever and wherever they want to.
You don't have to go events anymore to meet new people. To get your thoughts and ideas out there. The content you publish online does it automatically for you.
I guess the best way is a healthy mix between online and offline activities. You won't be able to go very far if you just show up online. That's why I try to attend a few events as a speaker, mentor or whatever, as often as I can (or want to).
And yes it might be dangerous to have your thoughts out there forever. What it will do though is that you won't talk BS any longer. You'll have to be your true self. You have to show who you really are. Otherwise one day people might find out that what you've been saying wasn't true.
And yes, many people don't or won't agree with what you have to say or what you write about. Which is great. Because then you won't have to waste anymore time talking about meaningless stuff and putting people into boxes. It'll be a natural selection filter.
As a matter of fact, all of my podcast guests so far (except one) were people I got in touch with through my blog. And these were all people I would never have had the chance to get in touch with otherwise.
And it'll get crazier in the future.
Networking and trust building will get a lot more scalable in the future when you're willing to use tools such as Meerkat and Periscope. These tools enable you to get your thoughts out there in real time, effortless.
All you have to do is to hit a button and you'll start streaming a live video to your audience. No editing needed. Just pressing a button. That's it.
Right now it takes me anything between one or two hours to write, edit and publish one single post online. Maybe more. Its very time consuming.
This time decreases to almost zero with live streaming apps.
The same holds true for YouTube videos. Or podcasts. You don't have to edit them. You record them, upload them and wait for people to watch them or listen to them.
I believe that's the future. That's future of networking. That's real networking at scale..