Not long ago, the ideal career aspiration was to be employed by one company for most of your life. Companies knew the value of loyal lifelong employees and employees treated the companies they worked for like their own. With our growing population, the readily available information on the internet and the ups and downs of the .com age, our professional lives have changed completely. In this generation, it has become more and more about branding yourself as an individual and less about being part of a company environment. This segregation is slowly pushing us to search for meaningful professional connections or groups with which we can identify. In a world where we’ve drifted away from a lifelong professional family, and drifted towards developing yourself as a brand, we’re starving for connection. Co-working space, collaboration and symbiotic relationships are popping up all over the internet and we’re pouncing on them with all the enthusiasm of a lost puppy.
Traditional networking is stale and no one seems to enjoy it. Walking into a room full of people eager to see what they can get from you is a concept that isn’t making much ground anymore. There no longer seems to be value in meaningless small talk and business card exchange. The internet has taken that job and we’re left with a longing for more quality connections. With all the readily available forms of electronic communication, what we’re missing is meaningful face to face relationships.
Many older business people are hesitant to accept the idea of collaboration in place of competition. After all, for years it’s been common practice to hide ideas and scoop clients from our competition to further our careers. But this is based on an outdated idea that there are a limited number of potential clients. This is simply not true. It’s time to move away from the destructive nature of competition and towards the productivity that collaboration can provide. By turning the tables and collaborating with other professionals in our field, we cannot only gain valuable insight and inspiration, we can grow and enrich our market by bringing awareness to our industry.
In Kelowna there’s a networking or collaborative group for everyone depending on your focus and interest. Whether it’s rubbing shoulders with the business people at the Chamber of Commerce, forming symbiotic relationships at the Trade Exchange, nerding out at the Colab with fellow creatives or connecting with inspiring women at Women in Business, there are some valuable resources out there. You can find even more groups on sites like Meetup or Eventbrite. So what’s your excuse?