Proactive vs Reactive Networking
I'm working on a few new networking strategies this week, one of which is an absolute beast! I mean this thing is probably going to be bigger than my dissertation for university: and I'm absolutely loving it! Anyway, while writing I used the phrase 'proactive rather than reactive networking', and although it's something I'm aware of, it's not something I'd ever really verbalised in that way before before.
So here I am, writing a blog about it!
The idea is that reactive networking is the act of attending a networking event. It's talking to people, new and already known, and building relationships with them in order to add value and achieve personal and professional objectives. You're simply reacting the environment you're in (i.e. at a networking event), therefor your networking activities there are reactive.
Yes, the act of booking onto a networking event and physically going there (either in person, or logging on online) is itself a proactive action: you're taking the initiative to go networking. However the actual networking activities you undertake are themselves reactive to the situation you're in. Booking onto a networking event isn't networking, it's admin! There will also be many cases of reactive networking where you have not taken any initial initiative to find, book on and attend an actual networking event, however you will find yourself in a networking situation: attending a wedding for example. Or an awards evening, charity event, dinner party or any other form of social gathering. These are all networking opportunities without being specified as networking events. Finding yourself in a social situation and talking to people = networking. Therefor reactive networking activities will be taking place as a natural response to your surroundings. Reactive.
Proactive networking however, is when we proactively create networking outputs without the vessel of an actual event or social situation. It could be taking the time, and initiative, to make introductions between people within our network for their benefit. It's sharing a blog we read or a video we watched with someone in our network that we know it could help, or resonate with, or add value to for purely those reasons. It's being proactive in the nurturing of the relationships we have professionally, and personally, in a way that takes up nothing more than our time but can have such huge impact on the people we know.
Proactive networking is really where the magic happens.
It's the foundation of our long-term relationships. It's where we add the most value to the people we know, and it often goes unnoticed or unpublished on social media. It's quiet, and caring, and thoughtful, and it can put a smile on someone's face, change people's mindsets for the day, or lead to opportunities that change lives forever!
When I think of the best networkers I know, it's not the loudest person in a room or the one with the best elevator pitch; it's the people who works silently in the background giving their time and energy to the people they know.
If you can take a few minutes today to think about how you could be adding value to the people in your network. How you could proactively be supporting them, encouraging them, and adding value to others? Go do it!
For more on how to strategically network and add value to the people you know, take a look at the new 'How To Network Strategically: create a networking strategy!' course!