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May 25, 2023
Is closed thinking killing “networking”?
Brett Sheldon

Brett Sheldon

May 25, 2023

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Networking - Love it or loathe it, networking is part of life for most small business owners. This blog looks at this in detail.

Networking – Love it or loathe it, networking is part of life for most small business owners.

But since returning from Covid restrictions some two years ago things still are not quite the same.  Regardless of event, organiser or location, numbers are down and from the conversations I’ve been having, so has it’s effectiveness at building connections and finding business too.

The problem is “online networking”

Pre March 2020, online networking simply wasn’t a thing.

Corporates had been using platforms such as “Teams”.  We’ve all “skyped” a family member at one point or another, often on holiday to show off how great the weather is, and tech was never a problem since the rise and popularity of smart phones.

But online “networking” simply hadn’t filtered it’s way through to the business community.

Why, I don’t know, but it hadn’t.  Not until every organisation in the world was forced to change it’s working practices that was – and I believe that was a watershed moment.

In one moment, networking was changed forever.


Because for the first time ever it gave you, the consumer, choice.

Online networking, or in-person networking – you could choose.  And it doesn’t matter where someone tells you whether in-person is better, their thoughts are theirs, yours are yours.  Many people prefer online networking.

Let’s face it, it’s more efficient.

No getting stuck in traffic, no time out the office.  More choice – after all, you can now attend any event anywhere in the world.  That means it expands your reach – WOW.  I recall one day I networked technically in 3 countries in one day.  I built some great connections.  Try doing that in-person.

But this choice inadvertently created a divide.

How many people do you speak to who say “in-person” networking is the only way to build relationships.  Or that online networking isn’t “proper networking” – Well I’m calling “Bull Shit” on that.

It simply isn’t true.

Perception is unfortunately squeezed by those who have something to gain.

The fact is that relationships can be built in lot’s of ways.  Many years ago people used to have pen pals.  People they’d never met or even spoken to – relationships were formed, some people, however strange it seems married their pen pals the first time they met.

What is true, is that it is easier to build relationships in person.  We are social animals after all, and we evolved to be so – a good word that…..” evolved.

Evolution takes time.

It can take thousands of years.  It never happens overnight.  It’s a process of natural selection, trial and error, mistake, evaluation and learning.  When covid hit and business owners, people like you and me had our lives thrown into turmoil had to adapt – but that was about survival.

And survival showed us new ways of working.

It is now socially acceptable to work from home.  In fact, writing this post I’m in my home office, in my shorts.  Thinking about it, I haven’t wore socks for the last two days – and it’s perfectly acceptable.

So is closed thinking killing “networking”?

In the short term, it is not killing, but it is damaging networking.  By choosing the “online” or in-person” camp means you are closing yourself to connections, relationships and ideas.

That’s bad.

Kodak owned the patent for digital camera tech – but closed itself to idea of a life without film.

Blockbusters had the chance to buy Netflix.

Times, sometimes, they do change.

The smart move presently with networking is to understand how to maximise your efforts regardless of format.  Learn how to network effectively across platforms because fundamentally building relationships is the same thing – you just have to do it a different way that’s all.

And remember…

Most importantly, do what is right for you.  You run your business for you and your family, after all.


Should you or someone you know be struggling regarding their networking presently please feel free to reach out to anyone in the YBW team, we’ll gladly give you some tips for free.

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