Traditional networking is generally practiced off the Grand Banks of Nova Scotia by smelly old men in schooners. It results in codfish.
The other kind of professional networking is practiced in second-rate hotel conference rooms by smelly young men in suits. It generally results in a loss of money and a rising sense of unease.
The action of getting together with your business peers is marketed as ” networking “, because it is more difficult to sell the word ” conspiring “. The purpose of the conference, the stale biscuits, and the burnt coffee is to allow you to gain an ascendancy over your peers…oops, I used the wrong word again…I meant competitors. It is a combination of industrial espionage and sly browbeating, as you ask questions designed to show how smart you are while discovering where their customers are hiding.
If you are good at it you can appear to be a brilliant friend to all – passing out pearls of wisdom while boosting everyone’s self-esteem. Whilst observing who is in financial trouble and making a mental note to deepen this for them until they are bankrupt. It is the sort of thing that J.P. Morgan and John Rockefeller would have loved to do. Think of it in terms of an adult Monopoly game – if you get in early you can claim the Scotty dog or the battleship for your token.
The wonderful thing about modern life is that you can do this from your computer screen as well. You can be linked-in to like-minded people with just a click. Before you press the button, though, you might give a thought to whether the people you want to lure into your crab-hole are bigger crabs than you. If in doubt, give a false name. I use Andrew P. Mellon myself, so that’s taken.