In a digital age, it’s very easy to hide behind our screens. It’s much easier to be bold over e-mail than face-to-face. But direct, real life communication is still incredibly important, and as long as there are options for you to be present and involved in-person, there will be networking opportunities that you wouldn’t find otherwise. A writer for Adelphi University put it best when they said, “Though these events might not immediately score you the position of your dreams, they will certainly establish inroads with [other professionals].”
Let’s talk about the importance of putting your best foot forward when you attend events, and how to use this digital age — e-mails, social media, and the like — to enhance your in-person networking experience. Using all of the applicable tools at your disposal is of the utmost importance and undoubtedly helps your career and your personal brand.
1. If You’ve Met Someone Online, Go Talk To Them In Person
In the social media age, we’ve all experienced seeing someone we’re “friends” with or that we “follow” on a certain platform, and not knowing how to approach them in real life. This is perfectly normal and meeting people after these interactions is daunting for many. Nonetheless, you need to put yourself out there.
If we’ve had even the most minor interactions with them online — a few e-mails, comments back and forth, or any other kind of conversing — go up and introduce yourself. Chances are they’ll respect you being assertive enough to say hi, and it’ll not only put a face to your name and brand, but a memory with you in it.
2. If You Meet Someone In Person, Go Talk To Them Online
By nature of going to a networking event or conference, you have to meet new people. In fact, you would have to go out of your way to not meet anyone new. So that being said, when you make new connections, try to get the person’s contact information. It’s probably possible to find it online if you forget, but there’s no harm in sending an email or message saying “Hey, it was great to meet you the other day and I hope we can work together in the future.”
This follow up is very important. It reminds them you exist and gives you an advantage over everyone else they met at the conference who didn’t follow up with them. You are instantly more memorable than other people, and maybe more important. It also shows your own personal interest in what they do and who they are, which goes a long way when they need something you can offer.
3. Be a Person, Not a Sales Pitch
Networking is not a chance for you to put on your best door-to-door salesman outfit and look for people that can give you money. People who treat it that way are perceived as tools and don’t usually get very far. Rather, you should be personal and understand that the people you’re meeting are in the same business as you and are therefore your peers.
Of course, there is a hope with anyone you meet that you’ll benefit from each other, but take the time to get to know each other on a deeper level. It’s not a waste of time, it’s what networking is all about. Hopefully you guys are able to link up in the future and this relationship proves to be productive.
4. Yes… Dress to Impress While Networking
All of this said, you are still representing a brand or business. The term “dress to impress” can be taken literally and metaphorically. Don’t dress like a slob; show that you care and are passionate about what you do. You are there to represent yourself and your brand, so go out with the intention of learning how you may improve, and share your own ideas with others. Be on your A game.
Be an accessible peer and come across like you know what you’re doing. Being personable does not mean being overtly casual. So watch what you say and do and of course, make sure all of your clothes fit you well.
Thoughts? Concerns? Disagreements? Agreements? Insights? Etc.? Send them all to me on Twitter @Robolitious.
P.S. Comment below with your own networking tricks and tips. Or find your next conference or networking event and put these new skills to use.