I love SoMe.
Fascinating to connect with people from so many diverse cultures, countries and backgrounds to exchange ideas and thoughts. Truly powerful in so many ways.
Yet for professional and personal growth we need the Net and Net. We need to meet people IRL and develop relationships with them. Its not virtual or real life.
We need both
So here are some networking basics for real life to augment your virtual side
- Reach out It seems obvious but the first thing you've got to do is get out there and say hello. There are lots of opportunities for this both locally and when you travel. SHRM chapters are a great resource. Don't know how to get involved? Volunteer – every SHRM chapter can use another volunteer. There are meetings/meet-ups by various groups. Want to get more business savvy? Go to business meetings. Civic and social interests? They're available too. Start a book club – people love to share. The point is: get started
- Find Your Comfort Zone Once you've started making contacts take things 1:1 to get to know people a little better. Meet for coffee in the morning (my preference), a quick bite at lunch or even a drink after work. Tired of the mundane? Go for a jog with a new contact. Meet them at the local art museum. Attend a lecture with them. There are many ways to share a little of who you are – do it in a manner that works for you.
- Set Goals Want to develop a good network? Meet two people a week. That's going to give you ~100 new face to face contacts to build relationships with every year. How helpful would it be if you had 100 people added to your contacts list in addition to all the people you meet virtually. Set a goal of people to meet and stick to it. And remember: every time you meet one person you ask for two names. That's the power of networking.
- Follow-up You know the importance of following up after an interview. The same goes for a networking meeting. I prefer email but do what works for you. The point is someone gave you a precious resource – their time. Make sure you acknowledge that with a thank you.
- Give Before You Receive Some people shy away from networking because they think its a prelude to being hit on for something. Go the other way – offer your time, your talent, your network without expectation. Be willing to help others without asking for anything. Karma works. The more you give the more you get. Give what you can and watch your network grow.
A final thought. The purpose of networking is to share yourself and learn a little bit about others. So just be yourself. Its okay if not everyone you meet makes it to speed dial on your phone. That's life.
But if you never met them, how would you know?