With the advent of the Internet and social media, networking has become the new norm for the way businesses share information and gain potential clients. One article, The Advantages of Networking, even states that it can improve a company’s credibility.

It’s also a means to advertise directly to a specialized niche. More important, it’s the new way to grow your business while solidifying your foothold in the world. But networking did not always look the way it does today.

Death of a Salesman is a famous play by Arthur Miller that debuted in 1949. The main character is a door-to-door salesman who’s down on his luck because the industry is dying.

His means of forming relationships is by traveling from town to town and knocking on every door he can to sell his product. In the play, the main character slowly loses all his money and control of his family because his method of networking has become obsolete.

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Even decades before the Internet gained popularity, the playwright knew that certain ways of forming meaningful business relationships were a tactic of a dying breed. So what does networking look like today?

Of course, traveling salesmen aren’t going door to door anymore with their products in large briefcases. But what are they doing, how do they do it, and what exactly are they doing?

What networking is

According to the School of Library and Information Science, the term indicates a type of exchange between two parties, with the possibility of career advancement.

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This means that networking isn’t just a fun way to keep in touch or gain information. The main purpose is for monetary gain; it’s a type of intellectual business transaction.

How networking should be done

There’s more to it, though. Networking can make you a leader in your field.

Whether it’s real estate, journalism, or sports, establishing the right kinds of relationships with people in your business area will help you advance. When you want to be thought of as good in a particular field, you should surround yourself with those kinds of people.

How should networking be done? Ivan Misner states that networking is only an efficient use of time, energy, and/or money if it’s a strategic and focused method of building meaningful relationships. That means people who network shouldn’t just blanket email everyone they know. It has to be specialized and concise.

Some tips on how to start

Here are some tips on how to begin networking yourself:

  • Keep an ongoing list of names and contact information

  • Politely ask your friends, family, and contacts for their contact information

  • Use blogs, discussion groups, forums, and chats

When it comes down to it, does social networking increase a company’s net worth? It certainly builds meaningful relationships between like-minded individuals.

It passes useful, current information between two or more parties. It brings potential clients to a company who might possibly be interested in the product.

In all, it’s much more than what a door-to-door salesman would do.