Slow Networking

Written by Christopher Batchelder, Edited by Elizabeth Graff

I’ve worked for the past 10 years in Dubai, where skyscrapers shoot up seemingly overnight, yet relationships take years to establish and nurture. It might take me two, three or more years to slowly network with someone before we reach a point where we feel comfortable conducting business together. Over coffees, chance encounters and thoughtful email threads, we build up the familiarity and trust that accompanies shared history. This type of offline, gradual networking requires care, generosity of spirit and a willingness to give freely of our own attention and focus. It feels human. It feels good. It feels palpably different than the kind of largely transactional networking that often occurs on social media, or even in traditional online learning communities.

The roiling feeds of Twitter and Facebook make me feel like a bystander at a bewildering parade of humanity. And online courses, while useful, often make me feel like I’m dutifully marching along a hiking trail that only goes in one direction, ticking boxes and moving progress bars along.

At Bon for Work, we’re much more interested in the former type of interaction, the kind we’re calling “slow networking.” And we’re interested in how to recreate that type of gradually-unfolding-over-time interaction online. Like the Slow Movement (and its many facets — slow food, slow fashion, slow cities, etc.), slow networking is grounded in a desire for authentic human connection and a human pace of experiencing life. We want to build a community that feels like playing on a playground, relaxing at a great pool party or having dinner with a group of welcoming and fascinating friends. In these spaces, you are free to go where you like, talk with whomever you like and craft your own meaningful experience. Of course, there are guideposts, hosts, a plotline of sorts that structure the quality of your experience. It’s just not a linear, prescriptive plotline.

So, when we talk about “slow networking,” we are teasing out the architecture of a very specific kind of learning experience: one that is grounded in the power of community, but not just any community. We’re building an intentional, online community. We’re building a community of practice that challenges each member to elevate his or her “game” and live toward his or her full potential.

We are a long way off from having all the right answers, but we do know that in our target model we want to:

  • Savor relationships.
  • Seek out deeper connections with other people.
  • Foster a global community with substance.
  • Help one another tackle specific goals and make progress towards them.
  • Create genuine accountability structures.
  • Become happier, less stressed, less anxious and more fulfilled!

If this sounds interesting to you, we welcome you to check us out at bonforwork.com.