Not so long ago, a big part of doing business locally involved you getting to know people of influence through organizations such as alumni associations, business organizations, religious groups, the golf club – and of course the Freemasons.
The issue with the various old-style networks is that they generally want new members to be of the same class and cultural background as the existing constituency, thereby discriminating against race, sex, age, religion and goodness-knows what else. Online networks, in contrast, have no such membership restrictions.
Conversely, while old-style networks are notoriously difficult to break in to, online networks are open to everyone. That should be a good thing. However, it also permits abuse – as anyone who’s had a flood of email invitations from virtual strangers can relate to.
Whether accessed by a web browser or a pitching-wedge, both types of network are invaluable for finding, securing and referring business.
As Groucho Marx once said “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” However, business culture is as much about who you know as what you know. It always has been.
Image courtesy of KEXINO