WHILE YOU MAY not choose to actively attend business networking functions like socials or scheduled meetings, having people you can mix and interact with is a good thing. There are different types and reasons for business networking. Some people use it as a tool to meet other people in their industry—to get a mentor figure, study the competition, or to stay up on the other key players in the industry. Others intentionally mix with groups of people who all work in different types of industries. This is typically more of a “social club” setting where the most common question is, “So what do you do?” Business cards are exchanged and the purpose is to find out, exactly, who’s out there for whatever you, or people you know, might need.

Sometimes, networking groups have dues, similar to a club or union, because they offer marketing services to members. Large organized groups can sometimes even command a membership fee on account of the success that membership has demonstrated for past and current members. Similar to the one found at, existence on an online database, especially one on a multifaceted business news, information and tools site will automatically associate your business’ search optimization popularity and help you be found more easily by people who search for your industry online.   

Established in-person networking groups have become geared toward a specific focus or echelon of industry. Ensure, when looking for one, that you find one that will offer you the most potential for acquiring new business—which is really what it’s all about. For instance, if you sell software, a networking group populated by contractors and other distributors of construction equipment may not be the best fit for you.

Just because you’re a member of one networking group, don’t feel bad about joining a few more. It’s not about allegiance—it’s about lines in the water. If you don’t really want to join a networking group, but want to meet more people in multiple levels of your industry, do a bit of research and find out what conventions and trade shows are coming to your area.

In recent years, the evolution of technology has both enhanced and inhibited the way we approach the concept of networking. While sites like Linkedin and others have allowed us to reach out to people in ways we never could have imagined a few years ago, they also stand between us and a vital facet of networking that many of the world’s best businessmen say is the most important key: A firm handshake and a look in the eye.

As such, I would suggest using online networking sites for what they were invented for—to establish connections and to broadcast what you’re about to a vast number of people. Use it as a tool for expansive research into the world of networking; just ensure that you don’t rely on it as your only means of communication. While technology and the advancement of the e-universe is growing daily, interpersonal communication skills will always be vital to the success of any buyer, seller, business owner, manager, or active member of the business community.