How Networking Has Become a Hunt for Online Connections
The impact of networking has rapidly increased given the rise of social media. With social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, words gets around much quicker than it used to, especially now that the six degrees of separation are more like two or three degrees of separation.
Social media has also made it significantly easier for us to find commonalities between other people because the amount of information that we now share online makes everyone so much more transparent.
We can find alumni from our university all over the globe or see a full online resume of people’s past work experiences. We can see where people have traveled to and when. We can even see where they are currently located at this very moment (if they are making it known to the public). And with these capabilities, networking itself has changed.
Networking doesn’t even require you to meet people face to face anymore — At least, not right away. We can simply set up a video call or a conference call. Or if we don’t want to speak to the other person, we can easily communicate by sending online messages back and forth.
This makes networking much less terrifying if you’re more of an introverted person. In fact, this takes the whole physical act of networking out of the picture entirely. Instead, it’s essentially just digitally “connecting”.
And the truth is, we may never actually meet the other person in real life.
I can almost guarantee a majority of people are connected to at least one person via social media whom they have never met before in person. For me personally, I can admit that I am. And furthermore, I can’t even keep track of the number of people who request to “connect” with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter or Instagram without ever having met me or having a single mutual connection.
The truth is, networking has become an online hunt for social connections.
For many people, networking seems like such a dreadful task when it comes to advancing our careers. But, as many of us also know, it can be extremely advantageous and even necessary towards finding a new job or getting ahead in a current job. The silver lining is that there is less of a need to network in-person now.
Instead of going to actual networking events, it’s a matter of effortlessly clicking a button to follow someone, becoming a connection, or becoming their new online “friend”. Then, once you’re connected to someone (especially someone of importance), other people will easily assume that you know each other in real life.
The idea and intention behind networking has drastically changed — Instead of networking primarily for professional career connections, it’s now become a tool to leverage for dating, growing an audience, building an e-mail list, prospecting or acquiring new clients, or even just becoming fake friends with people.
People want to “connect” with us without ever truly connecting with us. It’s become an illusion of who people think you know versus who you actually know. And this whole act of making it look like you are well-connected is kind of a big scam.
At the end of the day, who is really going to vouch for you if they don’t truly know you and vice versa?
If you’re going to go on a “hunt” for connections, at least make the effort in assuring that they’ll be meaningful ones — Not one where you merely seek to gain something out of it. Otherwise, all you’re left with are hundreds or thousands of strangers whom you didn’t care about in the first place.