The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What’s the best way to network? is written by Kevin Chou, co-founder and CEO of Kabam.
When my dad was in his prime professional years, networking consisted of a monthly luncheon with the same 20 or so colleagues or attending an out-of-town conference with a few dozen more people. He could shake hands with just about everyone. My dad’s networking universe consisted of about 100 people and his networking radius was a few hundred miles.
But nowadays, the Internet enables us to connect instantly with people around the world. Every time I post an opinion piece here or on my social media pages, I am astonished at the tens of thousands of people it reaches simultaneously and the fervent response it generates. My networking universe seems unlimited and my networking radius covers the globe.
And yet, sometimes traditional networking methods are still the most effective. I recently returned from Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech, a conference nestled in the tranquil confines of Aspen, Colorado and attended by some of the biggest thinkers in the tech industry. During the conference, I participated in a roundtable session, hosted by Adam Lashinsky and moderated by Leena Rao, about the future of games with CEOs from the following companies: Electronic Arts, Social Gaming Network, and Zynga. I cordially debated differing points of view while several audience members chimed in with pointed opinions.
The room was electrified when one audience member delivered a diatribe about our industry. The debate intensified. We could read each others’ body language. But we respectfully listened to each other. It was robust but civil. Excluded was the anonymous vitriol that often arises in online debates. At the end of the session, many of us spilled out into the corridor to continue debating, finishing with business card exchanges, handshakes and smiles.
Throughout the entire conference I met with various executives who attended other sessions, strangers introduced themselves to me with varying degrees of commonality, and I was able to stroll unhurriedly along tree-lined paths while engaging in deep and reflective conversations, pausing to snap a photo of rolling meadows backed by magnificent mountains.
After two days at Brainstorm Tech, my phone is now full with important new contacts, my perspective of the tech world has broadened and my curiosity aroused. My point is this: attending a good conference does wonders for networking, as well as your professional development.
This isn’t to say you should spend all your time at conferences. We all know professional conference-goers—how in the world do they ever get any work done? However, I make a point to attend one or two top conferences a year. Just like my dad did.
Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s the best way to network?
How to effectively network (even if you dread it) by David DeWolf, president and CEO of 3Pillar Global.
The only thing you need to keep in mind when networkingby William Craig, founder and president of WebpageFX.
Why social media alone won’t get you a job by Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder and CEO of VaynerMedia.
NYSE President: I owe every job I’ve ever had to networkingby Tom Farley, president of the NYSE.