Networking has always been the bane of my professional life. As someone who is terribly shy, the prospect of getting out and talking to complete strangers makes me die a little inside. To add to that shyness, I’m also a true Introvert so networking in person literally sucks the energy right out of me. All that being said, I’ve been getting better at it over the years. The best advice I have come across for overcoming my fears of networking has come from the book Splash: An Introvert’s Guide to Being Seen, Heard and Remembered. Definitely worth a read for any of my fellow Introverts.
Being the shy Introvert that I am, networking in the online world is my comfort zone. I don’t need to worry about how I’m dressed, if I ate too much garlic at lunch, or have to keep up with the dreaded small talk! While it may be within my comfort zone, after reading the lessons in this course, I’ve realized that I’ve got a lot of room for improvement, and need a good tune up in certain areas.
The Algonquin Social Media program has gotten me into blogging, and I am very thankful for that. While I don’t maintain my own blog, I do maintain one for work, and my bio with attached picture is at the end of every post I write, and I slip my name into the list of keywords. This helps get my name more recognized, and people used to seeing my face.
While I seem to be doing well on the blogging front, my LinkedIn profile needs some serious attention. I went in to have a look at my profile the other day, and realized that my profile picture was over 10 years old! I mean, it was a good picture, but was well overdue for an update. My “resume” was also lacking in details, and didn’t reflect a bunch of my current activities. When I updated it, I started getting a bunch of random messages from people in my network congratulating me on my new position, despite being in it for a few years already. I guess it pays to stay current.
My other social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are private accounts. I don’t really like mixing my personal life with my work life more than I need to. That’s not to say that I don’t have friends who are also colleagues, but I tend to get *a little* vocal about my political views around elections, and I don’t want to be putting off clients, or potential clients because their views are wrong. I maintain the company Facebook and Twitter accounts, but my name is not associated with them. I am thinking about creating a “public” Twitter account for myself that I can use in my professional life for networking purposes. Has anyone else done this for themselves? I’d love to hear thoughts on it.
I have a handful of commitments for the dreaded face-to-face networking in the next year or so. I typically go to conferences on Career Development about 3-4 times a year, mostly in Ontario. There are also a number of other smaller professional development events that I go to about 5-6 times a year, again all in the Career Development field. For these events I make sure that I’ve had a haircut recently, and have a stack of business cards on me before I head out the door.
My overall strategy is to make sure all of my social networks are up to date, with current bios and pictures so people can identify me when I am out at the in person events. There is a definite uptake in the number of LinkedIn network requests, and Twitter follows that happen right after an event, so I will make sure to a few things to the content of these channels before I head out with my new haircut and stack of business cards.