Networking is very much one of the most important aspects of work in many industries. It’s as much about who you know as what you know. As mentioned in Bradwell & Reeves’ book ‘Network Citizens’, the way in which people interact within these networks can have a profound impact on the formal structures that may already be in place. Networking is most definitely not a new concept or activity as we are inherently social people and have created networks for thousands of years. But the rise of networking in recent times with the invention of microelectronics and social communication services like LinkedIn, has meant we have been developing networks more efficiently and on a much larger scale.
With these networks comes a shifting dynamic in the workplace. They are often self-organised and informal, which can have a great effect on many aspects of the business such as team building and morale. However, they may also have a tendency to exclude and isolate individuals and groups, leading to the undermining and clashing with traditional hierarchical structures.
Working in different environments and with many different people has shown me that networking is a wonderful tool as it can aid in growing relationships and bringing groups of people closer. Although, I do agree that it can be used for more sinister purposes such as the exclusion of others or mutiny (if you’re Marlon Brando).
As we become further invested in social media and the barrier between work and home life becomes even more blurred due to technology, I can see networking playing a larger and larger role in how we interact within business settings, as well as in outside contexts.