Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Face up to contacts

Networking used to be so simple. All you had to do was navigate a crowded room, business card in hand, and introduce yourself. An event was a chance for career advancement and developing new connections.

The internet has changed everything. The technology boom of the 21st century has opened up many networks online, such as LinkedIn, and created real, focused, commercial opportunities. One merit of making connections online is the opportunity to tap into a vast international knowledge base.

The internet is not just an expansive new way to communicate with others. Businesses are exploiting these new networks, such as with web-based crowdsourcing sites that allow the sharing of new ideas with user communities that may contain specialists in a given field. Internet networks can reach incredibly far while still being quite specific in their focus.

However, since most business communication has migrated online, some believe a static workforce has been created - one that is losing confidence, dynamism and the tangential benefits of real human contact.

Although the internet has created great networking opportunities for businesses and individuals, the value of face-to-face communication should not be forgotten. Some critics also argue that with the use of technology, people are losing their interpersonal or soft skills, both in terms of external networking and communicating with their colleagues.

In a knowledge-based economy, you must not neglect person-to-person connections. Next week I will advise how to ensure you network effectively in the 21st century, both in person and online, to succeed.

Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong