What is the difference between networking and professional socialising? For many, they are the same thing. Business professionals meeting over cocktails or at business networking functions have the same ultimate goal. They want to increase their sales, increase their circle of influence and/or create alliances that will improve their bottom line. There is a distinct difference between networking and professional socialising and if you are not aware of these differences, which often may seem subtle; you may end up making mistakes that will negatively impact your business.
Professional socialising is an activity that takes place at the country club, local gatherings, association meetings and even in political circles. An example is when we are invited to a function that has a specific purpose. This can include a charitable event or even a few rounds of golf. These meetings are intended to foster a relationship between you and individuals you know through professional circles.
These are not opportune moments to start pitching or hard selling. You may think that giving a hard sell pitch while taking a few swings on the course is the perfect way to convert your professional associates into buying customers, but the opposite is what will result. You will quickly turn these people away from you and end up having your reputation tarnished. Keep your professional socialising to just that, socializing. Know what the core focus of these events and engagements are before you attend. Having professional ‘friends’ is important, you should not try to make a sale off of the back of individuals who are just trying to enjoy some downtime.
Professional socialising starts during these association meetings and attending these meetings is not networking. Networking involves people trying to help each other out. Networking is transparent. The individuals that you are engaging with know that the underlying purpose is business related. Networking is what occurs after the socialising. There is a time and place for everything and business networking should always involve an exploratory discussion between the parties involved. The key is to keep the conversation interesting and sustainable. The more you network, the stronger your alliances become. Make sure you understand the subtle differences between professional socialising and actual networking.
There are massive benefits to both professional socialising and networking. While there are some gray areas between the two, once you recognize the differences you can maximize the benefits. The same individuals you play golf with may become strong alliances that increase your sales and work towards your advantage. The key is to mind your manners and know what type of conversation is appropriate to have and where you should have those conversations.
(Image by JS Creationzs)