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Face-to-face networking in a digital age

Posted by Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President, on Wednesday, Nov 11, 2015

While the internet has created great networking opportunities for businesses and individuals, the value of face-to-face communication should not be forgotten.Blog image: Has the rise of digital networking affected people skills?

This issue is explored in the Hays Journal, where some critics argue that the use of technology is causing people to lose their interpersonal or soft skills, both in terms of external networking and communicating with their colleagues. The technology boom has opened up many networks online and created real, focused, commercial opportunities.

Introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are often cemented in person. If you want your business to succeed, sooner or later you’ll need to meet the people you would like to turn into clients or staff. And you should not underestimate the need to get people together physically to create the required trust and common understanding, especially if it is a new group or team.

5 tips for better networking:

1. People should be cultivating their ‘weak ties’ – those individuals encountered casually or unexpectedly who could develop into new and useful relationships. Potential networks are everywhere and not always in work-related places.

2. Technical knowledge of a job role or organization is a given in anyone with any professional ambition. But ‘loose knowledge’ – what and who we know outside of work – is also relevant and could also be useful to career development. Such information should be exploited appropriately.

3. The ‘global green room’ – the elite networks that welcome senior people, but remain closed to those further down the professional chain – stifles creativity. Opening up established groups to outsiders and sharing knowledge and best practice on a more meritocratic basis could revitalize networks.

4. ‘Marzipan managers’ should be a source of concern for organizations. These employees sit beneath the leadership icing and often feel frustrated and swamped in a sea of email and paperwork. Responsible employers will encourage them to network for their own benefit and that of the organization.

5. Organizations should aspire to becoming ‘curious corporations’. In order to flourish and succeed, businesses must not be too insular and should be aware of what is happening outside their operation. To achieve this, they must engage with the broader world through external networks and information-sharing to generate new ideas. Read more on this topic in the Hays Journal, our bi-annual publication on the world of HR and recruitment.

Read more on this topic in the Hays Journal, our bi-annual publication on the world of HR and recruitment. 

Talk to Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President, on the Canadian labour market.

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