My natural state is an introvert (i’m an “INTJ” for you Myers Briggs fans). I don’t last long at cocktail parties, though I do push myself to get out there and keep meeting people. Especially in the early days. “Networking” feels important when you’re starting a business from complete anonymity.
But the greatest collaborations in my life haven’t come from business card exchanges and getting chatty over drinks. On the contrary, they have resulted from a mutually beneficial exchange – one the started from an effort to share something. Perhaps it was sharing advice, ideas, or contributing to the open-source community. With the rise of collaborative business practices and professionally-geared social networks, sharing has become a better form of networking.
I mentioned this in a previous post on 99U, “A Manifesto For Free Radicals.”
We believe that “networking” is sharing. People listen to (and follow) us because of our discernment and curatorial instinct. As we share our creations as well as what fascinates us, we authentically build a community of supporters that give us feedback, encouragement, and lead us to new opportunities. For this reason and more, we often (though, not always) opt for transparency over privacy.
As I watch more people and companies use sites like GitHub, StackExchange, and Behance to find peers to collaborate with, learn from, or hire, I realize that these platforms may be more efficient than happy hour when it comes to meaningful collaborations. And if we rely a little less on old-school networking, maybe happy hour will become a little more happy for all of us.