A blessing in disguise: how AI will help you build more valuable connections

As a domain that’s so intrinsically human, networking is the sustaining force of our communities, especially in the business world.

Mixing artificial intelligence (AI) with networking might seem like an unlikely recipe, but what if it can enhance human relationship building? What if it can do more to enrich our networking experiences – transcending the divides of cultures, languages, and differences?

Does AI enhance or compromise authenticity?

This has been a topic of hot debate for a while now. We could assume that it depends on how we use it.  After all, one cannot deny that AI has been improving workflows, increasing productivity, and streamlining communication in various ways. While a definite conclusion is hard to arrive at, let’s explore a few ways in which digital tools can help enhance our personal style in how we present ourselves in a business environment.

To begin with, imagine AI as a virtual assistant that knows your tone of voice, personality, and history. Given the pace of its incredible evolution, it’s not hard to see how it can help you articulate your opinions better and build more valuable connections. AI can be trained to analyse your written or spoken communication patterns, word choices, and sentence structures and consequently recognise nuances in the way you express yourself-be it in emails, social media posts, or spoken interactions in virtual meetings. Through an understanding of your tone of voice, AI can help ensure that your messages maintain your style and tone, even when you’re communicating through, say, text messages. It can suggest ways to communicate in a manner that reflects your personality- for example, by recommending the use of certain words or phrases that resonate with your character and values.

We may be full of interesting thoughts and ideas, but there are times when we struggle to coherently express them exactly as we would like to. The reasons could be anything from a time crunch to an inability to adequately focus. Worry not, as it’s possible for AI to assist us in structuring our thoughts and opinions more effectively. It can offer recommendations for structuring your arguments, choosing appropriate language, and even detecting potential biases in your communication. Cool, right? This assistance gives users confidence that their opinions are well-articulated, clear, and persuasive.

By analysing vast amounts of data, such as user preferences and behaviour, AI algorithms can empower you to tailor your communication and offerings, making your interactions more relevant to those on the other side. It can also provide insights on how to engage with individuals based on their preferences and interests, making the networking process more personalised. In short, AI does the homework for you, so you can focus more on relationship building instead of the nitty gritties.

Help improve professional networking

There are various ways to connect with people and it doesn’t necessarily require one party to initiate a one-on-one interaction. Think about how dialogues take place on platforms like LinkedIn, where connections form and discussions unfold within comment threads! All you need is the right approach.

In that regard, AI can help you discover and share relevant content that can spark conversations and interactions within your network. By analysing your interests and those of your connections, it can provide content recommendations tailored to your preferences. This lessens the likelihood of irrelevance and redundancy in what you share with your professional network, translating to more engagement and quality exchanges.

Often, professionals find themselves channelling their time and energy into networking efforts that may not be rewarding. It’s as important to know when and how to tweak your strategy as it is to have one in place. What if AI can help you analyse your networking efforts by tracking interactions, response rates, and the effectiveness of different outreach strategies? In turn, this data can inform your networking strategy and enable you to identify areas for improvement as well as opportunities to enhance your effectiveness and reach. When you are privy to the awareness that your strategy may not be performing as you expected, it gives you room for some introspection and more intentionality. 

Moreover, recommendation systems powered by AI can analyse your professional interests, skills, and goals to recommend potential connections and networking events that align with your objectives. Based on your profile, it can also suggest relevant groups or forums to join.

Bridging the cultural gap: what can AI do?

As something that often took place within local or national boundaries in times past, networking has come a long way! If globalisation started the spark, the Internet and digital technologies completely transformed the game. With remote and hybrid work booming in recent times, another paradigm shift occurred, and now we cannot envision the business world without cross-cultural communication embedded in our daily routines. It goes without saying that networking in this dimension requires a deeper understanding of cultural nuances, including communication styles, etiquette, and values.

As busy as we are, it’s not always easy to dedicate enough time and energy to deep-diving into the nuances of cultural understanding. That’s where AI enhances human efficiency. For instance, while differences in time zones can make coordinating schedules a challenging feat, AI tools can assist in scheduling and managing meetings by automatically factoring in time zones. This enables people from various geographical locations and cultures to collaborate efficiently.

How can we not mention AI’s translation capabilities when we talk about cross-cultural networking? There are a few avenues where this comes in extremely handy. Consider multilingual forums and discussion boards, where AI can facilitate seamless communication, ensuring that participants from different linguistic backgrounds can interact with each other, bypassing the language barrier. At the same time, AI can also assist in making content more accessible, bringing it to a broader audience, and connecting with a diverse set of people. For example, generating alt text or providing closed captioning for videos can be done easily with AI-powered tools to ensure that everyone can engage with the content.

Personalisation is another aspect that AI can help with. By helping individuals find common interests and topics of discussion, AI can assist in personalising networking interactions, leading to more meaningful connections. How? By analysing cultural preferences and tailoring recommendations.

The AI advantage – a balancing act

Whether we like it or not, AI is increasingly becoming an indispensable part of our business ecosystem. While one side argues that it dilutes or even kills humanness, making everything it touches more machine-like, another side advocates that it will catalyse human productivity to its peak.

The challenge lies in striking that delicate balance between harnessing the vast potential of AI while preserving what makes us human. A good place to start would be to consider it a collaboration rather than a competition, and approach it with inquisitiveness rather than indifference.