The Importance of Networking

I recently started to realized how important networking really is in business.  Networks are oh so very important when it comes to doing some form of business whether you are seeking out customers for your startup, looking for a reference for a 3rd party vendor, and even seeking out new jobs or looking for someone to fill a role at your own company.  Sometimes you seek these people out for travel recommendations.  People have friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, and from various ‘networks’ if you will.  They can be categorized up in the following, and possibly more:

  • Friends and Family – People whom you spend a lot of your free time with.  These are those whom are close to you, whether you have done any work-related business with them or not.  They are still close to you on a personal level.
  • Work Friends and Acquaintances – These are those whom you had worked with at your previous employers.  You might have spent the majority of your week with them for months and years at a time. They know you very well on a professional level and in many times, on a personal level too.  Some of these individuals may cross over into the Friends and Family
  • Work Acquaintances – These are a bit different from the above.  These individuals are those whom you did not work with (at the same company), but rather maybe they were your vendor, or your customer.  “Money” may have exchanged between your company and theirs at one point.
  • Social Media Acquaintances – Who are these people?  Well, you may not have met them before, but there was some connection at one point that brought you together with them.  They followed you on Twitter, you followed back.  They connected with you on LinkedIn or Facebook, you accepted for some reason.  You may not have even spoken to them at all!
  • Similar Interest Acquaintances – Not sure if that’s the right description, but will explain here.  These are those whom you have a similar interest with.  Perhaps part of the same book club?  Maybe you play intramural sports with them.

All of these are great networks to reach out to when needed.  I am part of a mailing list made up of Similar Interest Acquaintances and realized how far the reach of experience and connection there is there.  We all have one common interest, which brought us together, and even just asking the most out of the ordinary question brings a heap of answers and responses.  But isn’t this what social networks are for, you may ask?  Quite possibly.  I think they are complementary to how you communicate with the different networks.  There’s probably a different social channel for each of those categories.  Use them how you feel is right.