What’s the difference between community building and networking?
This weekend, I went to a poetry reading and met some writers (here and here) I had only previously read about. I talked them for a little while (not too long) and no one was nervous or pretentious, it wasn’t like that.
The next day through my church, I had the opportunity to talk about what long-term relationships mean, how you can challenge people with hard things, but still be friends with people.
I don’t think any of those events were networking. The former was an early attempt at building a community, participating in a writing community and generally being supportive. The latter was a more intense version of the first, a different type of community centered on intentionality and commitment.
Networking to me is when you’re actually trying to promote yourself to get something out of it.
Community is helping and supporting, often with no immediate benefit.
Networking is about you. Community is about others.
I used to loathe networking and still do to a certain extent, but have seen more value in it when people are honest and open about what they’re trying to do.
The problem is when people think they’re going to a community-building event only to have people treat it as networking. This becomes problematic because the two are often cloaked together, and some of the events of community building can lead to networking. But that shouldn’t be the main intent of it. If it happens, it happens. If not, then all wasn’t lost, because you connected and entered into the story of another person.
What do you think?