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Make Connections through In-Person and Online Networking

Only about 3.5 percent of job postings ever make it to job boards. So guess how most hiring happens? If you’re thinking through social networking, you’re exactly right. Most jobs, no matter what country you live in or whether you’re a senior executive or an entry-level worker, are a direct result of networking. So if you want to have a successful career, you need to have a strong network.

But what exactly is networking? Networking consists of building your list of contacts, or essentially knowing a lot of people who you can easily call and invite to coffee or have a phone conversation with. Your network should consist of people you know who know you and are willing to refer you to others.

Traditional networking is when you go to an event and meet new people. Ideally, you want those initial meetings to grow into professional relationships where ideas and contacts are exchanged.

In the last several years, networking has taken an online dimension with the advent of social media. Social media has transformed an anonymous Internet into a social and deeply personal experience. Now more than ever, great networking can occur through meeting people online.

Online networking should not replace in-person networking; however, when used correctly, online networking can be every bit as powerful and effective to augment your in-person efforts.

Online networking has several powerful benefits, such as the following:

  • You don’t have to pay to get to the networking event.

  • You can discover info about people before reaching out to them, thanks to their online profiles.

  • You can connect with people much faster online than in person.

  • You can have discussions with more people in a shorter amount of time online than you can at an in-person networking event.

Don’t rely on online networking alone. If you use only online networking, your relationships may end up being shallow. Meeting people in person is the best way to build relationships. Even if you’re meeting new contacts online, find ways to meet them in person or talk to them on the phone. Although online networking is a great tool for growing your connections, it isn’t a substitute for the real thing.

An easy way to turn a traditional, in-person networking event into an online networking opportunity is to send a note to your new contacts within the body of a LinkedIn invitation after you get home from the event. In essence, you’re combining a “nice to meet you” with a “let’s connect on LinkedIn” message.

Most people who are active LinkedIn users accept invitations to connect, especially if they’ve already met you in person. As your new contacts make changes or updates to their profiles, your online connection allows you to engage with them outside of last week’s networking event.

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