Every Gen Y job seeker knows the bulky cell phones used on Saved By The Bell and other shows from the nineties that seem almost prehistoric now. It’s even harder to imagine using Rolodexes to keep track of people’s contact information–why use Rolodexes when you have Facebook and LinkedIn?
As technology advances, our ways of networking have evolved, as well. But, don’t abandon all of the old school networking techniques; the following three are still relevant and effective today:
LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are all current ways to connect with people. However, relationships aren’t maintained online-there must be face-to-face interaction. Get out there and meet new people. “Job hunters need to get out of the house and in front of people,” career coach Leenie Glickman said.
Meeting someone in person sets the stage for your online networking interaction with him or her. Once you establish a connection in person, it becomes easier to build that relationship. One way to follow up is to email them, reminding them where you met, commenting on what you enjoyed about the conversation, and asking them if you can be of any assistance in the future.
Make a goal to meet at least one new person each week. If you are shy about meeting new people, take small steps to get out of your shell-make small talk with cashiers, etc. Build your way up to be able to attend networking events-bring a friend who can help you initiate conversation if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Give new contacts your business card, not your Twitter name. If you don’t have business cards, you can easily order some for free from Vistaprint. Networking isn’t about one-time conversations or friendship requests; it is about maintaining and developing those relationships. For more advice on networking, try reading Never Eat Aloneby Keith Ferrazzi or Guerrilla Networking by Jay Conrad Levinson and Monroe Mann.
While establishing connections with people, it is crucial to be interested in them. People can see through you if you are not genuinely interested. When networking, be focused on quality over quantity. If you are not connecting with a person at an event, politely excuse yourself and find someone different to network with-and develop that quality conversation.
Build relationships before you need them; don’t just call on people for a job. Take former bosses or co-workers out to coffee or lunch to reconnect. Informational interviews also are a great way to gain more information and input from hiring managers and experts in whichever field you are looking to join.
Another great way to meet people is by getting involved. Join groups that interest you. The world is much smaller than you may think, and by establishing those connections in groups, you may end up being connected to one of your dream companies. According to a study by Careerplan4me, 80 percent of jobs secured in the current job market are gained through networking. You can network while volunteering with nonprofits like local soup kitchens or organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
People have more personality than their electronics and you must learn that networking is built upon trust-a trust that can’t always be established over the Internet. The traditional networking techniques of getting out there and meeting people face-to-face will only make you stand out from those who are just emailing.
What old-school networking techniques are effective for you?