My friend has recently been part of the launch of PRinks, the monthly social get-together for people in the communcations industry, and as as she talks to me about the birth of PRinks, she refreshingly reminds me of the power of online networks to build relationships. It’s also given me an interesting view on traditional networking and where the value of these events lies.
It started like most stories do – a boy meets a girl. But this is a more modern fairytale. Gem and Roger, the two PRinks creators met via Twitter as they both worked in PR and had an interest in social media. Discovering the connection to a mutual friend, they decided to catch up for a drink one evening after work and thought, ‘Why not do something like this with other industry folk who might like to meet and share a drink?’ So they did. And two weeks later they held the first PRinks at the Cabana Bar in St Leonards.
Now, while it was a relatively small gathering for the first turn out, Gem was excited to see the response from colleagues and people she’d never met or spoken with before. She said it was also great to put some faces to names that she’d spoken with online and find out that these people were just as interesting offline as well. Now they have held a total of three PRinks and they are expanding each time. Gem got an email yesterday informing her that a PR consultant wants to start a PRinks in New Zealand…so now PRinks is going global. I don’t think Gem ever expected that when she signed on to a Twitter account.
I think this shows us alot about networking and the fact that offline activity is just as important. Much in the same way that everyone including the dog stops when a bald bloke says he’s a banker, there’s a preconception around networking events that you are simply looking to find the nearest person with a blank cheque book, and the environment can sometimes be both forced and unpleasant.
Twitter truly is a pandora’s box of networking opportunities. However, at the same time, it’s easy to fall into networking complacency. I think to myself – I’m following new people, gaining new followers, interacting while I go. Networking? Well Twitter ticks that box. And in some ways, yes it does. Twitter is today’s networking. However it is not the only one. It is simply just the beginning and the networking cannot end here.
At the end of the day, meeting face-to-face is essential.
Often the best connections you make are with those who are interested in what you have to say rather than what you have to offer. Hopefully online channels can continue to be the leveller in this regard.