Networking: On the rise or a closed club?

People who network are all in favour, but it's not clear whether those outside the club want in.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 31 Mar 2015

Networking divides people. Most will agree you need to know useful people to get ahead, but there are still plenty who can’t get over their aversion to the air kissing and false niceties that abounds at some events.

Those who consciously make an effort to network, though, seem rather enthusiastic about it all. Almost 70% strongly agreed with the statement, ‘Networking is essential for building and managing a career,’ according to a survey of members by networking business Editorial Intelligence.

And despite the rise of online networking, particularly LinkedIn, more than 87% of respondents agreed that ‘face-to-face is the best way to network’. They seem to like it intimate too: 41.5% tended to agree and 29.6% strongly agreed ‘small curated gatherings’ were the best environments to meet ‘n’ greet.

It’s worth bearing in mind the 302 respondents were self-selecting, answering an email sent out to EI’s 5,000 members. That sample size also implies a roughly 5% margin of error either way. But you can probably safely say that people who are fully paid-up members of the networking club (both metaphorically and literally) are pretty happy with their experience of it. And curated dining startups like Table Crowd, 9others and Meetup seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.

The question, though, is what do people outside the loop think of it all? Do they think they’re missing out or are they happy with the contacts they make during working hours? And if Editorial Intelligence’s members are, as I suspect, slightly older, what do today’s 20 and 30-somethings think of getting your face out there and working the room? Coincidentally (or perhaps not), I’m going to a hacks’ meet-up tonight. But then again, there’s nothing journalists like more than talking to other journos about journalism.

Want to keep the debate going? Come to MT Live London on June 25, where Editorial Intelligence founder Julia Hobsbawm will be discussing whether networking really does get you ahead. Other speakers include John Lewis managing director Andy Street and EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall - see the program and book tickets here.

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