I recently read a blog from a fellow choral conductor who wrote about his aversion to “networking.” I agree, but only if we can define the term better.
I feel like networking is often defined pretty broadly as getting to know other people in your profession – peers and people ahead of you on the career ladder.
To me, the value of the interaction depends entirely on intent. When I meet someone new, it is because I have a sincere hope that our conversation will benefit both of us. If it is someone with more experience or knowledge than me, I certainly hope that I can learn from them; I do not hope that our meeting will lead to a new opportunity for me.
That is not networking to me. It’s connection – and it’s the lifeblood of building a life and career of value.
Networking is having the same interactions, but with the hope that someday the other person will give you something. The conversation might be identical, but the intent is opposite.
So absolutely, introduce yourself to as many people as you can at your next conference. But do it with in the humble hope of expanding circles of connection.