In the communications world, networking is a necessary evil to stay relevant and informed. I use the term necessary evil because one has to be in the mood to network and after working all day, dealing with kids and other commitments, going to an event to schmooze just isn’t at the top of my list. Now I always enjoy these events once I’m there and I always take home a useful nugget of information or meet someone interesting and have a great chat. But it’s hard to always be “on.”
Online, thanks to platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, I find it easier to network because I can multitask and can participate as much or as often as I like. It’s convenient and it helps to connect directly with those I find the most knowledgeable and interesting in a forum. Tweetchats and live-tweeting, for example, are for focussed events in which I have a particular interest. My likes, retweets, and comments form a diary of sorts that I can refer back to when those helpful nuggets of information are required. I can form lists of organizations or people to target my focus and I can choose to follow particular accounts that I think may be helpful during the course of my career or project.
LinkedIn provides more detailed components such as blogs or articles. I can also check out what others use in the profiles (e.g. job descriptions for my own CV) and how they are structured. There is also the opportunity to send someone a note or check out their profile on Twitter too.
But the hard-core reality is that face-to-face networking isn’t only the more productive, it’s the more effective. People remember good chats and friendly faces. They will recognize a name in another forum and will actively then look you up on social media to keep up that conversation or nurture the professional relationship. Networking in person brings about more opportunity be it a new job, a new contract, or even a new collaboration. They lift the weary work spirit and bring a refreshing perspective to the aforementioned “working all day, dealing with kids, etc.”
That is why one of my New Year’s resolutions was to become more active in face-to-face networking. I’ve been to events offered by IABC, CPRS and through the federal government and each time they’ve given me a different outlook on the ordinary. I’ve reconnected with former colleagues and classmates and grown my professional network as a result. I’ve face my extreme uncomfortableness in approaching a stranger to start a conversation and I’ve swallowed my anxiety to introduce myself to a speaker to discuss their presentation.
In my view, online and in-person complement each other in the networking world, and my commitment to my professional self is to stay the course and continue to immerse myself in keeping my career fresh and informed.