I was in a discussion recently with some other genealogists and the subject of networking came up. Some wondered if networking was worth the time and effort.
Regardless of whether you are a hobbyist or professional genealogist, do you feel that networking helps your genealogical research?
What does networking mean to you?
What form does it take (in person, online, society meetings, etc)?
What kind of exchange are you looking for?
Do you feel it's just a waste of time and you should focus on your own distant cousins or dirct work colleagues?
Which do you feel is more important, advertising or networking and why?
I am really interested in hearing what everyone has to say on this topic!
My take on Networking
You probably already know this but I value networking a lot. For me, it is something intuitive that I can't really help doing. I learned it from my mother. She loved networking too. I don't know where she got it from.
I like to meet people who have a similar interest in genealogy or history. I am not looking for anything specific when I start networking. I am looking to build relationships. I'm in it for the long haul. Networking might reap a reward for me in six months, five years or not all.
I also love the chance to help people. If I can do any action, small or large, to help someone I will try to do it. Likewise if I can connect two people who will benefit from the connection then I like to do that too.
Networking allows me to meet people either in person or online. That allows me to help them and maybe someday they'll find a way to help me too.
Networking also enriches me. I meet the coolest people through social media and face to face. Sometimes they have a different expertise than me or sometimes they have had some really cool life experiences. Meeting them and learning about their lives broadens my understanding of the world and increases my capacity to interact with more people because it opens up a whole new subject matter for me.
I guess what I'm saying is that networking is both building relationship and increasing my education all that the same time. A perfect combination for genealogy I think!
Networking has helped me professionally. Some of my best opportunities have come from professionals and non-professionals that I have networked with. Likewise, I like to share professional opportunities with people who have taken the time to build a relationship with me.
What form does a relationship have? It might be Facebook, Twitter, Google+, society meetings, professional meetings, socials, email, phone calls, etc I have met people in person who I established relationships with on Twitter and other social media. They have become an important sounding board for me.
I also strongly believe in advertising but I don't spend much if any on it (right now). At the moment I'm satisfied with networking.
Each individual likely has their own strong preferences and comfort level with networking. I realize that though I am comfortable with it, many people aren't. My brother, for instance, is much shyer than me. At one point in his life when he was searching for a new job he had to force himself to become more comfortable with networking. I think today, he would say that it is a valuable activity. But it took him a lot of hard work to get to that point.
So tell me what you think - thumbs up or thumbs down to networking and why?