Networking is all over the place. It is even turning into a science with classes and tips abounding. Networking is nothing new, it has been around since the beginning of humanity. Actually there was a time when everything was about connections and who you knew. At that time it was called introductions, when you wanted to get in touch with somebody you asked a mutual acquaintance for an introduction. In this way, said person should receive you – depending, of course, on your reputation.
This still goes today, and with the help of technology we can build the most impressive address-book, connecting us in seconds all over the world. The idea of every person being only 6 connections apart has taken hold and a grid is built all over the globe. Over time networking has passed to a more personal level where we speak freely about our interests, thoughts, likes and dislikes – It has become more emotional and is no longer about keeping a cool front or a good face. Technology reveals us; I study the use of Facebook and what people actually put there – it is often intensely personal. The same, in a lesser degree, goes for sites such as LinkedIn or Xing, over time they have slowly become more personal. People all over the world are blogging, pouring their souls into cyberspace for all to see.
Having 4 more or less grown children, I see a change in the manner of young people today. They are less secretive, letting “it all hang out”, as it were. I think we connect faster with others in this way, since we connect on different levels; personal, business and acquaintances. I have a desperately shy friend who hardly ever leaves her house unless she has to. Over the last years I have seen her build an impressive network that spans the globe, and she is doing amazing charity work in this way, spreading information and connecting people, still she can’t handle people face to face. BUT, and this is a big but (no pun intended), how much does all this personal and emotional information screw things up for us? How does it interfere with our reputations? And how is private and professional life kept apart when the borders get so blurry?
What are your thoughts on this?