When people think of networking they tend to think of sales people. Business Development Managers (BDMs) swapping business cards congratulating each other on hitting their latest targets.

When in reality that's not what networking's about at all. People often miss out the most valuable, and most powerful, reason for networking: Knowledge.

Attending events in the hope of making a sale is all well and good, but attending events with the mindset of wanting to learn is a whole other story.

This year I've done a lot of research into the academic side of networking and one of the most interesting things I've found was the results of a five year study conducted by UCLA. The research looked at the effects on large organisations when their well networked CEO left: unsurprisingly the results were that the companies were negatively affected in regards to profit. But not for the reason you might think....

The effect on the bottom line was nothing to do with the sales the well networked CEO brought in; it was to do with their access to knowledge. Current, up-to-date knowledge that allowed them to make the best informed strategic decision for their organisations, and therefore guiding their business in the most effective way.

The power of knowledge through effective networking is undeniable!

In a world where Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of affecting our lives so dramatically, I can't help but feel that the power of knowledge, and data, is more apparent than ever.

AI is only as powerful as the data it has access to; and that's the same for you a business leader. Building your network and strong relationships gives you access to so much more information as well as to opportunities. So next time you're at an event, remember to ask questions. Listen to people without a sales agenda and see where the conversations take you.