Productive Networking: Strike the Right Balance
We’ve talked about how to stay productive at work and at home, but being productive when you’re networking is an equally important task. There are so many ways to network today: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the good old way: traditional networking events. There’s places for you to go both online and off, and all of them are fairly easy. So, of course, you start doing everything — but when you divide your attention among so many places, how can you make sure you stay productive?
The fact that we can network online is great, but there are some drawbacks. When I work with some of today’s high school and college students, I notice that they mostly understand online networking, but are scared or unsure of in-person networking. I’ve found several interns who are afraid to even make phone calls, and instead ask me, “Can’t I just send an email?” I have to explain that sometimes, e-mailing just isn’t the same. Contacting someone via Facebook or Twitter is great, but it can only go so far. When you interact with someone in person, you’re far more memorable to them — and your message is far more memorable to them.
I attended a networking event through the Wright Institute that talked about the “Wonders of Intentional Networking.” I learned some new tips and tricks for LinkedIn, and received some valuable advice. Let your in-person networking skills work with, not against, your online skills. This includes:
- Asking a person you meet in-person if you may connect with them on LinkedIn.
- When reaching out to that contact on LinkedIn, send a message inviting them to lunch or coffee. Make sure to take the relationship offline.
With all of these networking tools now available to us, it’s all about striking the right balance. You don’t want all of your LinkedIn contacts to remain just that: LinkedIn contacts. Make them a real, offline contact as well. Don’t spend more time on the internet than you do networking in real life.
Finally, you’ll meet a lot of people at these events. Make it a priority to follow up with certain people, rather than spending several hours connecting with everyone you meet online. Some people you meet, while they’ll be great, may not be a real connection for you. Focus on finding those key people with whom you can really collaborate.
How do you manage your networking contacts? Do you pick up the phone, or do you find it’s not necessary anymore? Tell us what you think!