In today’s cyber-verse of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and yes even blogging, it can become all too easy to wrap ourselves in a cyber-cocoon of security. Professionally, this can quickly cause your job search to wither on the vine. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and actively utilize these mediums to keep in touch with people and to build my personal brand, but if you aren’t getting out there in front of actual people you are doing yourself a major disservice.
|photo by katska||via PhotoRee|
As human beings, we are naturally social people and part of building trust and getting to know someone depends heavily on that face-to-face interaction. People are more comfortable with someone when they can actually shake their hand, hear the tone of their voice and expressions on their face. This helps build a bond and allows you to add that more personal side to your “brand” that a cyber-profile can’t provide, or even worse can be more easily misinterpreted.
I have heard an unscientific stat used that, when it comes to our career management, we should spend 80% of our time networking in front of people and 20% online. One could debate the actual numbers, but ultimately the point is that more time should be spent interacting with others in person and less online scouring job boards. Most people find new opportunities through their network and very few land that next great job applying through job boards. Networking is how my career has progressed to this point. Unfortunately, I forgot this after our move to Denver. I began to fall back on sitting at home emailing, tweeting, participating on discussion boards and trolling online job postings. I let my anxiety about getting in front of people in a new city where I knew almost no one take over. I told myself that if I stayed active online that would be enough. In reality I should be getting out and meeting new people and introducing myself.
I’m now shifting my focus to networking more. I still plan to cultivate my online brand, because this is still important to the total package, but getting out and shaking hands and sharing ideas will endear me to others and give them a reason to help me find my next career stop. With this being said, one shouldn’t just randomly network. We should use our time wisely and focus on networking at events and with groups that are in alignment with one’s passions, values, etc. This will help ensure you are lining yourself up for career moves that will be a great fit. Try joining local professional groups, check out Meetup.com for interest groups, look into local volunteer groups, alumni groups, etc.
Also, networking shouldn’t always just be about you or just when you are looking for a new job. You need to be willing to help others unconditionally. This will allow you to increase your reputation as a go to person and build even stronger relationships. Too many people neglect their network when they are comfortably employed, but networks are like personal relationships. They need to be maintained or they will wither and disappear and you will begin to earn a reputation of someone who is around only when they need something.
What are some useful networking tips that you have learned?