We frequently think of networking meetings and mixers as just a place to meet new people, but that's not always the case. Frequently, networking events are also a great place to nurture existing relationships.
At a recent networking event I visited with someone who I had referred to a client, so I was able to catch up on how that project was going. Then, I saw a friend who sells to one of our clients. Both of these people are familiar with our new venture and during the evening introduced me to community leaders who can benefit from our new business. Later, I visited with a friend about her new business.
Earlier, I had attended the marketing committee meeting at a local non-profit organization. After that meeting several people huddled to arrange a round of golf.
It's very common to attend a meeting and visit with people who share several of your interests and activities. danah boyd mentioned that "People who have relationships with each other often have shared interests, values and tastes." In addition, "...there is a higher probability that your friends share the same interests as you than a random sampling of people."
Attending the same meetings and participating in the same activities as others provides opportunities to increase the number of common bonds with these people.
dana's post dealt primarily with online communities where it's common to never meet face-to-face because of the distance. I've been online since there was a line to be on, so I've exchanged information with many people who I have never met face-to-face. Online networking is very efficient for establishing connections with lots of people very quickly.
But, it's just as important to find ways to meet these contacts face-to-face. This leads to discovering other shared interests and participating in other activities — which strengthens our relationships with those people.