I don't care HOW virtual we get - we can never top the advantages of face-to-face networking. We have several opportunities coming up this week to network with business people in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area and we are more than excited to meet people.
One of our team members hates networking. I took him to a recent event and he wore his sunglasses the entire time. He didn't want to talk to anyone, he didn't want to do the 'schmooze'. To his defense, I kinda dragged him there! But we did make some really good contacts in spite of his trying to escape every five minutes!
Contacts are great ONLY if both sides agree that its a conTACT and not a conTRACT. There's a big difference. Those contacts who are only interested in a contract are just a flash in the pan. They will wait a certain period of time but if you don't become a conTRACT you may not hear from them again. What is truly unique about networking is the ability to build a professional set of peers for support, idea sharing, and yes, maybe a contract BUT be very careful getting too friendly with someone with whom you may end up signing a contract - or multiple contracts.
You've heard of the 'friends zone' in dating, right? That's when you are friends - really good ones - and that's all you'll ever be. In business networking you need to decide who is going to be your friend and who is going to be a business partner. It is not impossible to have both, its just dangerous. Can you fire your friend? Can you still have lunch with your friend if your lawyer just served his company papers for failure to pay? The list goes on but I hope I made my point.
So when you shake that next hand ask yourself, "is this a conTACT or conTRACT?"