Understanding the Difference Between Building Your Personal & Professional Networks

Andy Wilson, Founder & CEO of Graphight (www.graphite.com), explains the difference between personal and professional networks. It's very important to establish the difference for the professionalism of your company.

  1. Personal networking has an organic approach
  2. Professional networking has a structured approach
  3. Maintain a planned approach for professional networking
  4. Personal networking is less targeted than professional
  5. Consider Professional networking a business investment

So we all know building an effective professional network is important to making our business successful. And most people say well I am pretty good at Facebook and have a good social network. So I think I want to be good at business networking. And I don’t necessarily think that is true. I thought it would be worth a few minutes to describe the contrast between how someone should approach those two different networks.

So when you utilize social network, it is very organic - I have met somebody, I ran across him, I went to school with him, I want to connect with him, I am interested with what they are doing. That is fine. I love that.

But in business networking, it is much more structured. Our function is you know to make our business succeed. So it has to be intent driven. So I just do not want to connect with a bunch of random people. I wanted to figure out who those people are and prioritize my engagement with them so it is much more structured.

That ties to my second point. Is that spontaneous organic piece of that makes social networking fun? Actually, we will do you this service in business networking. We all have so much to do on our businesses that if we kind of just go down the spontaneous route, we probably will not have time to allocate to those relationships that really matter.

So think about planning how you allocate your time and building your network. What events you go to? Who you connect with? How you follow up with those people makes a big difference.

That ties to my third point that the meandering part of the kind of personal social network is great and it is part of the fun but targeting your time is so important in business networking because if a deal is coming up you wanted to figure out who those people are and how you get those connections in place so you win that deal. That is not meandering, very intent driven.

And it – fundamentally, the mindset is different. When your social network you know sitting on Facebook and chatting with your friends. That is a terrific outlet. You kind of pour a glass of wine and relax and chat with my friends.

I think that is very different than when I am driving my business and thinking about you know how I am going to win the next deal and make my payroll.

So it is kind of two different sides of the brain even though they ask but have social engagement with people is the same, the approach is very different. So think about that as you are thinking about what part of my brain I am using today in terms of building something for fun or something to make my business successful.