The Age of Technology seems to be responsible for creating a culture of loners and technology junkies. A partial cast of villains would have to include television, video games, iPod, email, cell phones, and the Web. Collectively, we have allowed television and the WorldWide Web to create millions of techno-zombies and email and text messaging to corrupt the art of conversation. At least this is how it seems. However, I think this is a natural part of the discovery process common to any new technology. As my mother would say, “It’s just a phase we’re in.”
One of the signs that we are growing out of the phase is the explosion of business networking organizations. Throughout this period, the traditional Chambers of Commerce gatherings and business meetings at the club have continued. Still, there is a renaissance in the making. Today, business networking is sweeping the nation, with enough events to fill a calendar. LinkedDayton, a local extension of the popular Website, LinkedIN has one or more networking events each month. There are one-off groups that meet in south of Dayton, such as Phil Herzing’s Productivity Series and “The Brady Bunch,” formerly known as “The Panera Group.” The Small Business Success Network (SBSN), an organization that extends throughout the Greater Dayton area and beyond, has a wide variety of events that bring business people together for networking and support. Their mission is to:
“Work together to resolve small business challenges; give and receive qualified referrals; hone networking and sales skills; patronize members’ businesses; and help each other make their dreams come true.” — SBSN Website: <www.smallbizsuccess.net>
There are other groups with a regional or national footprint such as Christian Marketplace Network, BNI, and Rainmakers. Trade associations also engage in networking. PolymerOhio!, Technology First, Dayton Tooling and Manufacturing (DTMA), and American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) are just a few examples familiar to folks in Ohio.
The savvy executive, emerging leader, entrepreneur, and business professional is getting out of the office and engaging in one or more of these every month. The purpose? Professionals from every profession discover talent, learn new things, establish business connections, strike deals, enhance relationships, build their personal brand, expand their circle of influence, and meet opportunity. The power of a handshake and sharing of ideas over a meal will never be replaced with technology. Live, in-person, eye-to-eye interaction is one of the most important aspects of being human, even in business. Business networking is helping to put the human touch back in business.
“There is not a soul who does not have to beg alms of another, either a smile, a handshake, or a fond eye.” — Lord Acton