The term social networking is an oxymoron says Will Kintish

The statement “the strategy for survival is visibility” should resonate clearly with the PR community. PR is, of course, all about helping your clients become more visible and there are three ways to achieve this. Hard copy; online; and face-to-face.

I am quaint and old-fashioned. When I started work no-one had a PC, a mobile and “e” was just the fifth letter of the alphabet. The word networking wasn’t used as far as I know. In those days we just talked to each other!

Modern Vs old-fashioned

Today social networking is ubiquitous. Yet the term “social networking” is an oxymoron, as often or not, people don’t really communicate in a sociable manner. It’s all “Quick! Quick! Let’s get the message across in as few words as possible“. From a personal perspective, the most effective method to raise one’s profile is to attend events and build relationships the same way it’s always been done; ever since Adam offered that apple to Eve.

Social networking will never replace meeting people as you can’t build worthwhile relationships on-line. You can start them via the keyboard, but once you have made a connection, I believe it is vital you “do coffee” or arrange that after-work drink.

That way you get to know others, decide if there is some rapport, and then build the relationship from there. You and I know people buy people before we buy the product or service. And the safest way to get to know someone is to meet. Share your smile, touch through firm handshakes and look the other person squarely in the eye. Find things in common, spend time asking good questions, listen intently and see if there is something to move the relationship to the next stage.

Overcome fear

The majority find networking unconformable and try to avoid it at all costs. Why? Because of people's natural fears when they are not used to something. Who will be there? Will I know anyone? Will anyone talk to me? Will I be judged and found wanting? What is going to happen? The fears and concerns go on and on. But FEAR is a four-letter acronym: False-Expectations-Appearing-Real.

I suggest that when you behave courteously and respectfully, and have a kind and generous nature, people will take to you and your fears will be unfounded. Most people are nice like you, and when you meet the rude ignorant person who decides you’re not worth talking to, just move on and find the majority of pleasant people.

Become visible

In today’s highly competitive world, being a confident and effective networker sets you apart from the crowd. You become more visible, always feel in control and will always create more career and business opportunities than the average.

Ninety nine per cent of people dread this vital activity, but when you are effective and confident at this fundamental business skill, you are bound to succeed with whatever goals you set out to achieve.

Will Kintish is author of Business Networking – The Survival Guide