Last week Wednesday I attended WOMMA’s Wine Wednesday, a networking event which was sponsored by Netshelter. WOMMA stands for Word of Mouth Marketing Association and Netshelter is a leader in technology for publishers, marketers, consumers, etc. To find out more about these awesome organizations go to WOMMA’s website at http://womma.org/main/ and Netshelter’s at http://netshelter.com/.
Apart from winning a book in a drawing- WOMMA’s “Measuring Word of Mouth,” I had a pretty awesome time meeting people and doing some networking. Ever since then and especially after attending VelvetStyle‘s mixer yesterday (which I shall post about tomorrow), I have been wondering, what is the difference between networking and meeting people? Is there a difference at all?
Beginning with networking, it is one of the skills that was really stressed in my alma mater, Drake University’s CBPA (College of Business and Public Administration). When I came in as a freshman, oh excuse me, I mean first-year student (former RA humor), the CBPA had 1 hour seminars that consisted of lessons “your classes won’t teach you.” One of the vital themes throughout those classes was networking. According to Dean Blum, the Dean of students in the CBPA, whether you are a 4.0 student and involved in every single student organization, if you don’t have networking skills, you are doomed!
I have a little charisma, if I do say so myself. So, I always knew that at least some of the skill of networking would come almost naturally to me. I can make good conversation with anyone from my mail man to high-rank politicians. So when I went to WOMMA’s event last wednesday, I was not phased at all by the idea of walking into a room full of people I did not know and getting to know them.
During my senior capstone, my professor, Barry Pace, taught us the value of “elevator speeches” as another networking tool. Elevator speeches are a prepared 1-2 minute presentation about your “professional self.” In fact, we had a friendly class competition/bracket that would see the person with the strongest elevator speech perform it with an important business professional towards the end of the semester. Guess who won that competition? Yours truly.
Okay, now that I am done blowing my own horn, I have to say that as much as networking is about introducing yourself and what you do, it is really about giving another person an opportunity to talk about himself or herself and what they do. It is the BEGINNING of creating a professional relationship and in some instances, even a personal one. With networking, there needs to be follow up. Which means you not only take the business card, you actually email them, you keep in touch with them, you suggest meeting again and above all you are GENUINELY interested in getting to know them. People are not stupid and even if they are, nobody likes to be used.
Meeting people is a lot easier than networking because the truth is you probably don’t need to follow up. Meeting people also doesn’t really involve a personal interest in them or their work. It is simply the action of them getting to know you and you getting to know them at a very basic level.
So what’s the differnce between networking and meeting people? Well, let’s put it this way, meeting people is collecting their business card and putting it in your bag. Networking is taking that business card and actually connecting with them. Meeting people is taking that first step to have a conversation and networking is taking that conversation and turning it into a relationship. Meeting people is having people know your name. Networking is having people know who you are, what you do, and what you want to do.
It’s just two cents from a rookie professional and an eventmarketingrookie so take it for what it’s worth. So please tell me what is your difference between networking and meeting people? Finally, I just wanted to once again applaud WOMMA and Netshelter for the great event where I both met some people and networked. It was a great atmosphere and really easy to be in. Pictures don’t lie: