The discipline of networking

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This weekend we (Nanna, Nikolaj and I) went to Reputation Institutes 11th international conference in Oslo. The theme of the conference was innovation as a reputation platform, and consisted of three days with speeches from professors and practitioners from around the world. And what a great experience! Not only attending the different plenary sessions and discussions, but also being part of a gathering of so many qualified people, that have an interest in the same field as I do.

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And obviously, this was a great opportunity to network. As I am still quite new in this business, I am not an experienced networker. But – there I was – with a bunch of new business cards ready to be handed out. And handed out they were; I met a lot of interesting people who I plan to keep contact with.
This experience made me think about networking as a "discipline". Because networking is important. Apparently very important. But to be honest, I think there’s something about networking that has a negative or unauthentic dimension to it. It’s almost like it has become such a hyped buzzword, that it looks more and more like a strategic discipline – some people "network" in such an aggressive way, that I can’t help wondering what the benefits really are. Others seem to find it the most natural thing in the world to hand out their business card the moment they introduce themselves.

I guess different strategies work for different people, but I think that if networking should bring value to you personally or to your business, its essential to network with maybe fewer, but more relevant people (as in having a shared interest), and then actually keep contact – rather than networking only for the sake of networking! After this weekend, I prefer to think about networking as a talk between people with a shared interest. In this sense I can much better approach people and "network" in a natural way.

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