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by Jay Scott August 30, 2011

In August, Jay took part in a charity rally to Mongolia. Having made a generous donation to the cause, Rotary invited him to speak about the experience at one of their meetings:

Standing in front of 30 Rotarians, I was struck by how networking has evolved in just a few years. And wondered whether it’s necessarily improved.

The first Rotary Club was established in 1905, explicitly as a business networking tool – each regional chapter would allow one member from each trade to join. Thus, any member could access any service – from accounting and legal to construction and goods – secure in the knowledge that the provider carried the gold cogwheel-shaped seal of approval.

Nowadays, technology gives us access to a far greater pool of partners, but networks are often judged on their breadth rather than their depth. Having 500+ contacts on LinkedIn (founded 2003) is worn as a badge of honour – indeed there are groups of people who advertise their willingness to accept all connection requests, purely to accumulate contacts.

As a tool for doing business or as evidence of trustworthiness and connectedness – a network is only as strong as its links. In the face of dilute contact pools and unwieldy supplier lists, there’s something to be said for Rotary’s philosophy.

Jay Scott is a consultant in Interim Consultancy for FreshMinds Talent.

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