The Myth of Online Networking – by Dominic Collard

12 October, 2020

Guest Writer – Dominic Collard

The Myth of Online ‘Networking’

When I used to be professionally ambitious, I’d rock up at networking events all over London. They were not pleasant hunting grounds for me. I’m not a natural people person. It takes me time to warm to new folk. So there was always something masochistic about throwing myself into a pit of strangers, armed only with a warm glass of white plonk and a well-rehearsed weather-related ice-breaker.

I used to spend most of the evening in the corner, feigning frustration that an urgent email was keeping me from proceedings. I persevered, presuming it would all become easier. It never did.

Thank God for the arrival of LinkedIn… Now I could do all this networking stuff from a safe distance!

Except it doesn’t really work that way. Networking online is a myth.

Making connections is not the same as having connections.

Searching for Connection

When I think about my business network today, it’s made up of ex-colleagues and clients. A few agency folk I’ve worked with over the years. The recruiters who were nice to me. Some parents from school. University mates. This bunch I travelled around Asia with. People I’ve been in the presence of.

No amount of digital engagement can replace a relationship born and bred in the ‘real’ world. It’s real-world relationships that produce trust. It’s people you really know who you seek out for advice. They are the ones you remember more; who save you trawling for talent when you need it. This is what it means to have connections, not simply be connected.

But none of that excuses a couple of hours in a cheap hotel passing out business cards and making tiny talk…even if COVID allowed for it. Like any conference or company offsite I’ve ever attended, there’s something about networking indoors — confined, controlled, timetabled — that numbs the senses.

Northerners seem to have grasped this. Freshwalks, which began as a one-off countryside ramble for the Manchester business community, has since hosted nearly 250 walks with thousands of people joining them. Networking is one benefit, but by no means mandatory. Physical exercise, mental well being, sharing stories, or just to wrestle back some perspective on life are equal draws of the great outdoors.

How to Get Involved

Freshwalks is bringing its business networking events to London, and the stunning setting of Richmond Park on Friday 20th November; if you’d like a sneak peek, check out the recce Dom took last week.

The registration page is now open, and includes details of how the walk complies with COVID-19 restrictions. Dominic Collard, will be leading the walk alongside Freshwalks’ Founder, Michael Di Paola.

If you’d like to join us but can’t make the date or it’s a little too far afield, check out our full event schedule here.

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