Networking Isn’t About Who You Know, It’s About Connecting

Porter Gale, the former VP of marketing at Virgin America, kicked off  ASAE’s 2016 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference with some inspiration on forming authentic connections both at the conference and back at the workplace.

“I really believe that networking has changed,” Porter Gale, the former VP of marketing at Virgin American, said during her Opening Keynote at ASAE’s 2016 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference (MMCC). “It’s no longer about that business card or the buffet where you’re eating those little teeny canapés, right? It’s about authentic connections and relationships.”

But what does that look like, especially in a world that’s teeming with digital noise?

“Over these next two days, I want you to lean in and listen to people,” she said. “I want you to connect. I want you to get interested. Don’t just think about yourselves. Think about everyone else that’s here.”

To say it another way, Gale encouraged MMCC attendees to disengage from their phones and engage with one another.

“So, what I want you to think about,” she said. “Is your network your net worth?”

By focusing on relationships with integrity, authenticity, and passion, Gale said that happiness, productivity, and revenue will inevitably follow. The first step toward implementing this, she said, is to ask yourself what barriers are holding you back from connecting.

Gale also said it’s important to understand that the world is more connected than ever before, pointing to a recent Facebook study that found that just about any two people can be connected in about 3.5 degrees of separation. “What this means is that every action that you have, the ripple effect is more important than ever before,” she said.

Add to this that content has shifted. PR has shifted. Storytelling has shifted. Because of this, Gale said associations need to consider how technology and increasingly connected consumers will change how organizations do what they do.

For instance, people who are passionate about a brand or a cause want to share stories with their networks, as shown by the 60-plus percent of people on Snapchat who are sharing stories.

“They’re connecting, they’re building these networks of people and friends, which is similar to what you’re doing at associations,” Gale said. “You’re building together webs of networks of people who share your interests. You’re sharing ideas about things that you’re passionate about.”

“[Your organizations] are instilling passion for these future leaders, future architects, future designers, future engineers, future nurses. So think about that power. This is based on connections—authentically inspiring people.”

Gale recommended that associations distill their mission to three words and use them to guide their marketing and communication efforts. She also highlighted the importance of gathering the right group of people around an organization’s mission.

“Are you passionate about what you’re doing? And are you building a network around your ideas?” she said. “Think about connecting your head with your heart, and your wallet will flow from it.”

MMCC Opening General Session speaker Porter Gale. (Maria Bryk)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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