While the internet has created great networking opportunities for businesses and individuals, the value of face-to-face communication should not be forgotten.
This issue is explored in the latest Hays Journal, out now, where some critics argue that the use of technology is causing people to lose their interpersonal or soft skills, both in terms of external networking and communicating with their colleagues.
The technology boom has opened up many networks online and created real, focused, commercial opportunities. One merit of making connections online is the opportunity to tap into a vast international knowledge base.
The internet is not just a new, expansive way to communicate with other individuals. Businesses are exploiting these new networks, such as web-based crowdsourcing sites that allow new ideas to be shared with user communities, many of them specialists in a given field.
However, since most business communication has migrated online some believe a static workforce has been created, one that is losing confidence, dynamism and the tangential benefits of real human contact.
In a knowledge-based economy, it’s a high risk strategy for individuals to neglect person-to-person connections.
And companies should help their staff to learn to network more effectively, both in person and online.
Email should be no substitute for human contact and companies should develop their staff’s softer skills as there are gains to be made whether within or outside the organisation.
Staff who are isolated by email can become a threat to an employers’ competitiveness, so offering formal training in networking skills would benefit both companies and the individuals concerned.
Introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are often cemented in person.
If you want your business to succeed, sooner or later you’ll need to meet the people you would like to turn into clients or staff.
And you should not underestimate the need to get people together physically to create the required trust and common understanding, especially if it is a new group or team.
Top 5 networking tips according to the Hays Journal:
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Chris Mead is Regional Director of recruiting experts Hays in South East Asia. He has 24 years experience in executive recruitment in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.