How to Mesh In-Person and Online Networking
Tips for building your professional network in the digital era
Combining old-school networking strategies with new-media opportunities is a great way to increase the effectiveness of your job search. Yet this doesn't come naturally to all job seekers. Some struggle to use the Internet and social media for their search, while others rely too heavily on the digital world, replacing vital in-person networking with Twitter chats and LinkedIn connections.
"It has to be a combination of the two," says
So how should you mesh those two worlds?
Here are a few ideas for how to play in-person and online efforts off one another:
Whenever you meet someone, look them up on your social networks.
We often remember to follow up after networking or professional events, but what about when you meet someone on the bus or at your son's soccer game? Whether or not you send a nice-to-meet-you email, find that person on networks you're active on -- likely LinkedIn and Twitter for professional contacts, and
[See 9 Companies Hiring Now.]
Don't forget about the power of in-person connections.
Sometimes we're so busy tending to our smart phones that we forget to pay attention to the person in front of us -- and that person could be a valuable connection.
Recognize you may need a digital footprint to score an in-person meeting.
Most companies now check out candidates online before scheduling an interview, says
Use online tools to find in-person events.
Try Meetup.com to find events based on your professional interests, hobbies, or skills. Look for happy hours and other mingling opportunities related not only to your work, but also to your personal interests; you may meet someone who helps you turn that hobby into a career. Twitter can also be a resource for discovering meetings, called tweetups, of people who share interests. And some LinkedIn groups that center around a geographical location hold luncheons or after-work events. If you're active online and open to these opportunities, they may even find you.
Hand out your business card.
No, the business card is not yet obsolete. Plenty of high-powered people aren't yet on LinkedIn, and even if they are, they're not likely to remember your name unless you give them your card. To show your digital side, include your Twitter handle on your card or add a QR code to the back. (Don't use a QR-code-only card because not everyone will know what it means or what to do with it.) When someone hands you their card, write a note to yourself on the back after you've parted ways to remind yourself who the person is.
Bring your Twitter connections offline.
Take online relationships a step further by making the effort to meet your Twitter friends in person. If you connect with someone who lives near you, suggest a one-on-one over coffee or brunch to discuss your common interests. A contact who has met you in person is more likely to go out of their way to recommend you for opportunities, Glickman says. "[Meeting in person creates] a whole new level of intimacy, in the sense that you feel like you really know someone and you'd be willing to go out on a limb and do them a favor."
Ask how you can help.
"[When networking,] our first instinct as human beings is to think, what's in it for me? But we have to turn the tables and think, what it's in it for them?" says
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