Difference between Networking and Making Friends.
Networking and making friends seem pretty much similar. You’re meeting new people, finding common interests, and hoping that the relationship will continue. But in reality, networking and making friends is very different which makes it very important to distinguish between them.
The first and the foremost is the difference in Intention in which we start both. Networking is done intentionally. We usually meet various people at the event, connect with them, get together and find out how can both of us help each other in each other’s career paths. The main aim behind networking is to find out a connection that will add professional value to our career. In networking it’s very much possible that you and your connection become friends over time, your connection may become a friend if you share a lot in common and begin to interact regularly, but this usually happens naturally and without intention
In the case of friendship, you never do it intentionally. Friendships develop based on geography. Think about all your friends, they are people who were in similar physical space as you. Your friends while growing up lived close to you, went to the same school as you, or were in the same activities as you. Your friends as you grow older work with you or are in the same activities as you. You usually don’t live life to make friends, but you make them as you live life.
Another difference between networking and making friends is the connotation involved in both. “Making friends” has a social connotation and “networking” has a professional connotation. We tend to share our personal feelings with our friends, but we share business tips with our network. There is a lot of chance of crossover between these things – friends can lead to professional opportunities and colleagues can be friends – but it’s usually a good idea to be careful about sharing feelings, political and religious opinions, etc. with our professional network. Our network is basically supported in our career advancement and some topics just don’t belong in the workplace. You never know how things go down with a network connection.
Your network list grows as a result of exchanging business cards and schmoozing with the “right people” at multiple events, but opportunities continue to stagnate because there is a lack of trust and depth in the personal relationship with your network. Networking even though done with professional motive should have a friendly vibe to it. It should not only seem a mere convenience.
Friendships by definition are built on mutual trust and support. Such foundations are close to homely space for sharing ideas, broadening our experiences, and unraveling opportunities in both work and life.
Refreshingly, friendships do not require you to work the room, you can simply be you, and unlike the draining effects of needing to always be “on” when networking, studies also show friendship have a profound impact on our wellbeing.
Another point of difference between networks and friendships is that it’s not the number of relationships that impacts our well- being, which we have all experienced a feeling of loneliness even while in the company. Rather, it’s the quality of close relationships that has an impact on overall life quality. In the end, it’s always quality over quantity. Networks probably will just bring advancement to our career and leave but friendship will stay through almost every up and down.
Perhaps we gravitate towards forming networks over friendships because in adulthood, making new friends requires a certain level of openness and vulnerability. There is a perception that people already have their set friendships, and ever-expanding responsibilities in our personal and professional lives can lessen our opportunities to meet new people. One must always look for expansion in their circle. When from outside we seem rigid in opening our circle, it may lead to a loss in some opportunity or experience.
It is very much possible that when we try making friends at each and every networking event we ever attend, we may be doing a disservice to our own self. Networking is about building rapport, having conversations that are substantive, and finding commonalities with other professionals in a limited amount of time. Yes, it’s an opportunity to connect with others, but it’s more about advancing your professional goals than it is about getting people to like you or boosting your social scene in professional space.
Networking, according to some people is a boring and pretentious process. Well… It may be this way, it’s not necessary that all the fun has to be sucked out of networking. Networking isn’t about brusquely exchanging business cards it’s about making true connections with people. But the key is: Before you move those connections straight into friend territory, do have meaningful conversations that help advance your professional goals.
There’s nothing like the feeling of having a friend who truly listens to your ideas and provides constructive feedback, versus a contact who’s mentally rehearsing his pitch while you finish your thoughts. It’s the positive influence of someone who helps you grow across many areas of life, versus one who only contacts you when you get a promotion. Being a friend means you’ll be on top of someone’s mind, rather than a LinkedIn search away. Rather than asking someone, “What do you do,” like everyone else that night, starts with “What have you been thinking about lately?” Then shut up and listen. Dig into the why, and unpack their values, seeing how they compare to yours. Best, do it over lunch or drinks after the event: sharing food and fun. Let a conversation spill over into life as well as work.