Big Ideas ALA Executive Director’s Letter

The Benefits of In-Person Networking

In her book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, author Priya Parker says, “The way we gather matters. Gatherings consume our days and help determine the kind of world we live in, in both our intimate and public realms. Gathering, the conscious bringing together people for a reason, shapes the way we think feel and make sense of our world.”

Eryn Carter, CAE

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to rely on online communication and social media to connect with others. However, there’s still immense value in in-person networking. While it may require more effort, time and resources, the benefits of in-person networking often outweigh the potential drawbacks.

One of the main advantages is the ability to establish a connection with others. When we meet someone in person, we can engage in face-to-face conversations, read body language and establish a personal rapport. These interactions help us strengthen relationships that can lead to future opportunities and collaborations.

Despite the potential drawbacks of in-person networking being time-consuming, costly or simply uncomfortable for those who are introverts like me, the benefits of in-person networking are clear — particularly when the members of our ALA community share common interests.

In addition to building stronger relationships, in-person networking can also help us expand our professional network — which is why in-person events remain a critical element of ALA’s membership benefits. By attending these events in-person, members and business partners have the chance to meet new people and forge new partnerships. These connections can help us achieve our career and business goals and expose us to new ideas, perspectives and industry trends to advance our careers and business opportunities.

While there’s no denying the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of in-person networking, there’s also scientific research that supports it. For example, a study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that individuals who networked in-person had a higher likelihood of receiving job offers than those who networked through online channels. The researchers attributed this to the fact that in-person interactions allow individuals to establish a deeper connection and build a sense of trust with potential employers.

“In addition to building stronger relationships, in-person networking can also help us expand our professional network — which is why in-person events remain a critical element of ALA’s membership benefits.”

Another study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that individuals who participated in more in-person networking activities had higher job satisfaction and were more committed to their organizations. This contributes to members’ overall satisfaction in their affiliation with ALA and increased engagement.

Furthermore, research has shown that in-person networking can also have positive effects on mental health. A study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that individuals who participated in more social activities — including in-person networking — reported lower levels of depression and anxiety. This suggests that in-person networking can not only benefit individuals professionally, but also have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

Of course, we recognize that in-person networking isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We will likely invest our resources into gatherings that add the most value to our lives. So, as we are mapping out our schedule of gatherings we will be joining this year, I hope you will look to ALA as the organization that honors the art of gathering.

Turning back to Priya Parker: “Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them.” Just like any other art form, ALA’s in-person events are molded and shaped into masterpieces that create deep meaning and deeper connections in service to our bold, sharp purpose as an organization.

I look forward to gathering with you soon.

Our Annual Conference & Expo is the biggest gathering opportunity for learning, networking and making new connections or reconnecting with friends. Join other legal management professionals and business partners for this year’s event, May 7–10, in Seattle. Check out this year’s education lineup and make your plans to attend today!