How to network in-person
When professionals refer to networking to advance their career, many times they are simply referring to their use of the social networking site LinkedIn.com.
Yes, LinkedIn has done a fantastic job of branding itself as the #1 method to grow your professional network, but let’s not throw away the traditional methods just yet.
Humans are more likely to remember an individual they’ve met in person, rather than a name they’ve viewed on a screen. Therefore, networking in-person will remain the most effective method to receive results.
But how will I meet professionals in my field or industry to build relationships with?
Believe it or not – there was once a time where the internet did not exist and the #1 method to build professional relationships started with a handshake. So for those of you who have forgotten, let’s revisit some traditional methods for networking in-person.
From conferences to tradeshows, there are an endless number of industry events that you can attend to meet professionals. Equipped with your business card, you should head out to these events in order to establish relationships with your industry peers.
The best part – most other professionals in attendance will be there to network just as you are. The purpose of many tradeshows, etc. is to provide a professional environment for people to find new business partners, vendors, contractors, etc. You’ll fit right in.
Lunch Dates with Colleagues
Now many professionals already head out of the office at lunch time with a colleague or two, but these colleagues are generally those who you already work with on a daily basis. If you are looking to move into a different department or into a higher level role, reach out to someone within your company that has already achieved that goal.
Establish contact with the person in question and ask if you two can meet for lunch or a coffee because you have a few questions about their role, and are interested in travelling down the same path. You can treat this colleague as a mentor and earn valuable advice on how to achieve your career goals.
At the same time, if a position becomes available in the department, the individuals is now aware of your interest ahead of time, and you may appear on the shortlist before you’ve even applied.
Get to Know Friends of Friends
In the social media world, you can easily find out who your friends know, just by clicking a few buttons. So let’s use that information to your advantage. If you have an old friend from college that is celebrating a milestone birthday, and you’ve noticed on LinkedIn that they are connected with an influencer in your industry, go to the birthday party.
Yes – you should really be there to simply celebrate your friend’s birthday, but you can be on double duty to network with the influencer in question. Instigate a casual conversation and allow it to lead into your professional background. Once the influencer is aware that you are from similar career backgrounds, you can establish more of a professional relationship.
These are all great tips to guide you through in-person networking tactics, but don’t leave LinkedIn out of your networking process.
LinkedIn’s benefit is its ability to create transparency in your professional network. After meeting a professional in-person, there is no possible way to know a list of individuals that connect you to this relationship. This is LinkedIn’s edge; the ability to immediately determine if you know someone who can introduce you to this individual, or find something in common to build the relationship upon.
A great idea is to combine the two methods of networking. Find potential connections and professionals through LinkedIn, and follow up the online connection with a personal interaction. Now you’ve covered all of your bases and can ensure that you’ve established a great contact in the field/industry that may benefit you in the future.
Are you lost in the world of LinkedIn? We’ve got experts who can help you!