Networking is ...

Joe recently clicked ‘connect’ to a sales executive he had never met at a company he had interest in on LinkedIn. He read an article about what they do, and wanted to hear more. Had Joe followed LinkedIn’s best practices for using their platform, he would have found a connection he and the sales executive had in common, asked for an introduction, and waited.

LinkedIn’s more than 450 million members establish them pretty firmly as an expert in connections, but I do not entirely agree with #3. “Use your inbox” would have been fine on its own (and is certainly beneficial to growing the LinkedIn membership. We see what you’re doing here, LinkedIn).

It’s the next sentence that doesn’t serve us. “Networking doesn’t mean reaching out cold to strangers.” Isn’t that exactly what networking sometimes means? Surely you wouldn’t shy away from meeting people at a live networking event, a job fair, or a party simply because they are strangers.  Why would it be perfectly acceptable to introduce yourself to a stranger in person, but not virtually?

The goal of networking is growth through mutual interests.  Often incorrectly used interchangeably in place of networking, growth through mutual interests relies on all three of these unique activities – prospecting, connecting, and relationship building. Sometimes you already have the connections and can go directly to relationship building, but it is likely you need the other two.

Websters definition of networking is the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. To cultivate is to seek, prepare, plant, acquire, improve, befriend — all of the below.

Prospecting: Seeking and preparing to identify potential mutual interests.

Connecting: Planting and acquiring information to discover mutual interests.

Relationship Building: Befriending connections and improving bonds to share mutual interests.

Getting back to Joe, he connected – in minutes actually – by reaching out directly to the sales executive he wanted to talk with. The sales executive viewed Joe’s profile and also identified potential mutual interests. They have talked on the phone and are building trust and referring each other – or, sharing their mutual interests!

Joe 1) prospected 2) connected and 3) began relationship building with the goal of sharing mutual interests and growth.

Keep linking in your common interests, sharing resources, and GROWING – Gaining Rewards, Opportunities and Well-being together!

You can connect live at growing numbers of local Hour of Power Speed Networking® (HOP) training, practice and connection events.  Use the free tip sheets and examples at  If there isn’t one in your area yet, it’s easy to start your own at

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