Are We Too Busy For Real Networking?
“Oh the times they are a-changing!” – Bob Dylan
I’m trying not to consider myself as being all that old. I’m also trying not to seem overly nostalgic. Yet things have changed, and not all of them for the better.
Last Friday I had lunch with one of my local buddies. He said that he hardly has any friends and doesn’t get out much except for work. I mentioned that I thought he was a great connector and he said that part was sometimes true, but that it was very hard actually getting people to get out of their comfort zone to actually meet him or others he’s trying to connect with each other.
I’ve noticed the same thing over the last bunch of years, but I had to mentally step back and consider this. I thought to myself “Heck, if this good looking young guy has this kind of trouble, then what am I griping about.”
When I first got into business on my own back in 2001, there was no shortage of places where people could and would network together. I really was just getting my footing at that time because I’d mainly worked out of town, so I didn’t know that many people in the Syracuse area. This was also before the days of social media, so maybe it was the only way we could connect with each other.
Back then, I was meeting someone new for lunch every few weeks or so. Occasionally it was with a new organization I was checking out, but for the most part it was one on one. Truthfully, most of the time it was with people who were hoping I’d become a client, which never happened, yet they’d know who I was moving on from there; I could live with that.
Then I left town for a year to consult at a hospital in Westchester County. When I got back home, I noticed that things had changed somewhat. It was harder to get people to meet individually for lunch. Some people wanted to meet for coffee before 8AM; that wasn’t happening since I not only try not to get up that early but I don’t drink coffee. However, it was a low number; most people just weren’t interested.
It was pretty quiet for a while there. Then we started having things like Tweetups and other organizational get togethers of hopefully like minded people, and that was pretty cool. We even had a Tweetup kickball game that was amazing (and hot!).
Then I left town again, this time spending 18 months in Memphis. Now it seems that even the planned networking events, such as the Liverpool Chamber events, don’t draw all that many people… at least not close to the numbers they used to.
Other events are also down drastically. Last year there wasn’t a single tweetup locally, and there was only one very small get together of a local blogging group that had a pretty successful start but fell pretty much off the earth. As far as I know, there are no plans for anything in 2016 at this point.
As for lunches… not counting my friends, in 2015 I met 1 person for lunch, and in 2016 I’ve now met 3. Two of those were people who asked to meet me, which means that my record for asking and getting people to meet me for lunch is pretty dismal.
Maybe I have it easier than most others since I mainly work from home. Maybe I’m living in the prehistoric era of networking since most people connect more with each other online, and when they have a free moment they’d either like being with friends and family or off doing something on their own.
I had thought it was only me until I had lunch last week with my buddy. Folks, it seems there’s a serious disconnect as it pertains to local networking. I refuse to believe it’s just here in Syracuse; this has to be more of a national thing. How funny it is that I can interact online with people all around the world yet I can’t get a local person who I’ve met at least once in person to meet me for lunch.
Oh well, life goes on. At least I’m not scared to eat lunch alone; Twin Trees loves me. 🙂