Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What does successful networking look like to you?

We hear a lot about the importance of building your network. But in the 21st Century Information Age, what’s more important – your “local” network or your “global” network?

As someone who lives in a smallish town in northern Michigan, I’m definitely going to go with the global network.

For years, I worked at growing my local network. I went to business-after-hours, chamber breakfast meetings, you know the drill. I sat on committees and made chit chat with local dignitaries.

It didn’t get me very far.

But about eight years ago I fell in with the leaders in my field (lifelong learning). It was almost a fluke, but I did get noticed. In a matter of a couple years I went from running a local lifelong learning program to writing for national magazines on lifelong learning to consulting with the world’s largest association on lifelong learning to running the marketing department of the same association. Last year, I traveled all across North America (and Hawaii) making presentations and conducting workshops for the leading lifelong learning program executives in the world.

And not a single golf outing made a difference.

I still go to the occasional “Wild Game Dinner” (in northern Michigan, these kind of events raise a lot of money for local charities), but I have to say, I don’t care if the branch manager at our local bank knows my name. And I don’t care if someone doesn’t think I have a “real” job, because I telecommute.

I’m curious what you all think on this topic. Are you still on the local chamber of commerce circuit?


Jeff said...

Global network. Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook. More connections, more influence. Put like-minded people together, and you can get things done. I'm still trying to get Kevin Bacon to join my circle, however.

Jennifer said...

I think it depends on the role of your job. If you have a job that is driven by local leaders (those that haven't realized there is a world outside of the 30 mile radius they are in) then you are forced to network locally. Ultimately the future is in global networking. Big ideas don't just happen in one town. They happen everywhere. I too want to get Kevin Bacon.

Kristina said...

As an author, Twitter has become a terrific tool for interacting with booksellers, reviewers, readers and book bloggers all over the country, both formally (when I tweet book news) or casually in a cocktail-party sense when we commiserate and crack each other up about anything.

So my job isn't "local" in that sense. Readers are everywhere.

However I do still make an effort to network with the bookish aspect of my hometown, because that part of the community is still an important part of what networking I can do in the flesh. I keep in touch with the local bookstores and libraries by attending events and just dropping by to say hello when I can. I think if I didn't, it would be a strange omission.

Anonymous said...

I think both local and global networks are important....I wouldn't get very far in my career without the local network.