Currently, my professional networking strategy is mainly based online. I have a LinkedIn page that I update on a semi regular basis althought I’m fully aware that I should pay more attention to it. LinkedIn is such a good resource and I haven’t fully utilized all of it’s features. I have found that it’s come in handy after I’ve attended a networking event like a conference or a casual meet and greet. I’ve got a few contacts on LinkedIn shortly after attending these events. Actually, one contact I made at a conference I attended a few months ago applied for a position in my company.
I’ve also joined a few Facebook groups that are directly related to my career. One is the Library and Information Technician alumni group which frequently posts jobs, current library issues/trends with a little bit of fun bookish things thrown in. It’s a great way to keep up with the friends I met in school, keep informed of the current trends in my industry and to know the type of employment opportunities available. The other group I follow is LANCR, which is another library based group with the primary focus of connecting library people by creating networking events in the Ottawa area. Since I joined the group recently, I’ve only been to one event but I made a connection with someone who later found me on LinkedIn.
My preference is in-person networking since my background is working with the public and is directly in my comfort zone. I have no problems striking up conversations with random people, it’s what I did for over 10 years and I know that it works. Because of this ability I’ve got my last three jobs without having to go through the interview process (which scares me for the future since I’ll be out of practice). With my current job, networking opportunities don’t come up as often since the majority of our interactions happen online. My in-person networking involves the few conferences I attend each year and anything else I find on my own and make time to attend.
What does the future hold?
My main focus for this year involves building more of an online presence. I do have a lot of profiles open on a number of different social networking sites but I tend to be more of a lurker than a participant. One of my goals is to start commenting on various blogs I follow or start conversations with the people I think create good content. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own blog, but I’ve got two things that have been holding me back. One, I have trouble deciding on my topic or focus, and should it be professional or personal? And two, I already write the majority of the content for my work blog so it’s been difficult to start something that feels like work.
Another goal would be to get myself out talking to people again. Networking is a definitely a skill that can be developed and once there, needs to be maintained. Since my work offers few opportunities for this, it will be up to me to find professional networking events and make the time to attend them. I think that the Facebook groups I’ve joined are a great start, but maybe looking into what’s available on LinkedIn would be a great way to branch out.
If any of you have your own blogs I would love to know how you started, how you keep consistent postings and if you feel it’s been worthwhile either on a personal or professional level.