Networking, in person or online, is a challenge

By Cindy Macdonald

A well-developed personal brand is necessary in business today. It is vital to keep professionalism in mind at all times when posting digital content, because anyone can Google your name, at any time. When the person you’ve just met at an industry gathering looks you up, what will they find?

I have decided to pursue work in digital media as well as print, so I have expanded my self-description to be “editor and content creator.” This phrase now appears on my resume, my bio for Twitter and my LinkedIn profile.

Labelling my skills is the first step in developing my personal network online.

Having been in and out of the publishing field for a few years now, LinkedIn is one of the obvious tools for me to keep in touch with peers. I have 204 connections on LinkedIn and belong to six groups related to industries I’ve covered for various publications, one “magazine” group, and Editors Canada. The groups are resources that I have not yet mined, as I’ve been focused on working toward my social media certificate.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

One deterrent to participating in online groups, such as LinkedIn’s magazine group, is fear. I fear that any comments or posts I make would not contribute anything useful to the conversation. My specialty of trade magazines, particularly trade magazines in Canada, is a niche, and I worry that my experiences would be different than those of editors on other types of magazines. I’m uncertain my input would be valued since it applies to a rather narrow segment. When I’m looking for a job, I emphasize my many years of experience in magazines, but to actually put my own opinion out there is a little frightening.

The solution is to begin reading the posts of this group and read the responses. I’m sure there are threads and discussions to which I could contribute. I would plan to start small and pick my subjects carefully.

Social media also presents an opportunity to boost the work of friends and colleagues by engaging in conversation, perhaps contributing interesting questions to their posts or timelines. It’s a way of supporting their businesses or ventures and building a two-way relationship. Now that I’ve moved to a rural area, I intend to network with local businesses, to offer my expertise in communications and social media. To meet these businesspeople, I’m joining local Facebook groups, and hope to attend local business association or chamber of commerce meetings. Face-to-face meetings are difficult to implement right now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, so it is doubly important that my online personal brand shows that I am a knowledgeable, experienced editor of print and digital magazines, with up-to-date social media skills.

About me: After more than 25 years as an editor of trade publications, I’m now learning social media techniques. I’ll be writing about news, communication, social media and travel as I go through this career transition. Please join me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog, and we’ll chat.

COM0015 Professional Networking (Assignment 5)

COM0015 Professional Networking (Assignment 5)

Second Degree Connections

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I must admit that this assignment stressed me a bit.  The idea of attending an event, making small talk, and schmoozing made me uncomfortable.  But I was determined to give it my best shot, so with introvert thoughts aside I went looking for a networking event. However, with COVID-19 restrictions and everyone practicing social distancing, there wasn’t much to choose from.  

I was considering a virtual employment fair which had online exhibitor booths, employer panel discussions and webinars, but after looking at the speakers list this event didn’t fit my needs.   There were other webinars coming up which were better suited for my industry, but many wanted me to pay to register for the week-long virtual event.

An opportunity came up to attend a small committee meeting in-person for the Routes to Roots Film Festival, so I took this as an opportunity to practice networking skills.  I researched the attendees and made a list of speaking/conversation notes.  Most were retired teachers, so I knew enough to stay away from topics dealing with class sizes or Education Minister Stephen Lecce.   I arrived early to get the lay of the land and picked a good spot (near the front, but still in eye contact with everyone).  Some networking events might have food or drinks provided, I suggest you eat daintily – – there’s nothing worse than talking to someone after just popping a large cheese puff into your mouth and trying to discreetly chew – – a great way to make a unflattering first impression.

“A Slow Burn”

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

The phrase ‘slow burn’ was used at the meeting to describe the committee’s strategy this year, changing from a one-time event with a blast of promotions to a multi-part event staggered throughout the year.  I suppose I would characterize my networking style as a ‘slow burn,’ opting to create value that people will want (i.e. a pull strategy) rather than asserting my value on them (a push strategy).  Push is like selling.  Pull is like marketing.  Either strategy is good, it depends on which you are most comfortable with.

I wouldn’t classify the attendees as those who could advance my career, however the names discussed in this meeting, i.e. second-degree connections, may be who I need to network with. It’s amazing how some teachers still connect with their students, even long after they left Highschool.  Long story short, I’m now volunteering and giving my time and expertise to this committee with my sights set on connecting and networking with filmmakers and other content creators. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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COM0015 Blog 3 Professional Networking

COM0015 Blog 3 Professional Networking

Desperately Seeking Support for Network Building

The idea of ‘networking’ makes extroverts gleam and introverts scream.  Schmoozing and ‘working the room’ may be natural behaviours for some, but for others it can often be an overwhelming and underproductive experience.  However, if done effectively, networking can expand your sphere of influence and build your personal brand.  For those desperately seeking support, here’s some tips that I have learned over the years:

Know Yourself

Professional networking is more about giving than receiving, so determine your strengths and be prepared to share this knowledge and experience with others.  Think about your brand and what makes you a superstar. If you talk about something that you are passionate about, you will come across sincerely and naturally. 

Do Your Research

Whether it’s a virtual or in-person networking event, research the participants ahead of time.  Make a list of who you may like to connect with and think about how your strengths, knowledge and experiences may be of assistance to them.

The Meet and Greet

Some can dive right in and start a conversation with strangers, while others may need a bit of coaching.  Scan nametags for people on your research list or look for businesses or organizations that you feel comfortable conversing about.  If a large event sounds too daunting, invite a networking buddy, but be sure to branch off and meet new people.   Think quality connections, not quantity.

Network Everywhere

Don’t just save your networking skills for formal business events, look for opportunities at team meetings and social functions.  Make a pact with yourself to share and offer your skills and experiences with a co-worker and/or meet someone new.  

Keep in Touch

Professional networking is more than just meeting people, it’s about making meaningful connections. You might keep in touch over coffee or at other business functions, but with COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll all need to rely on phone calls, email, and social media for the next 6 – 12 months.  If you are uncomfortable chatting on the phone or writing emails, you can easily re-connect by commenting on one of their posts or send them a link to an article that you think would interest them.  Again, quality connections, not quantity.

By giving your time, offering your insight, and sharing knowledge, your network will naturally reciprocate by preaching your value to others thus increasing your brand reputation.  Keep the faith.

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COM0015 – Blog 3: Networking for Success

Networking is key to professional success. In addition to getting to know people who may offer you a job or refer you to someone who is offering one, networking also makes you stand out, opens the door for new opportunities, boosts your intellect and creativity, adds to your self-confidence, and gives you access to information that can help you succeed (Cole, 2019).

Networking is key to professional success. Source: @CBC on Giphy.

Doing nothing not an option

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have effectively put the job of expanding my professional network on hold. I am still active on LinkedIn and Twitter, the two social media channels that I use mainly for networking purposes. However, I do not make professional connections or promote myself on these platforms as actively as used to.

Not networking is not an option if you aim for professional success. Source: @southpark on Giphy.

I understand that by doing nothing, I am losing a lot of opportunities. As one author puts it, “if you’re not networking, you’re not working” (Fasih, 2014).

Planning ahead

Here is what I am planning to do in the next 12 months to build up my professional networks.

Having a plan is a good start to networking. Source: @drpaulbearer on Giphy.
September – December 2020

During the next four months, I will work on ensuring that people see me online the way I want to come across. Social media provide the most effective platform for building and communicating one’s personal brand (Algonquin College, n.d.).

So, I will start by making sure that all the social media accounts I have tell my story the way I want it to be told. I will post content and engage people in a way that will show that I am aware of and interested in what is happening in my industry. I will also comment on content shared by more prominent people in the industry and offer insights to demonstrate that I know what I am talking about and can add value to any project.

January – April 2021

The next phase will focus on building connections with people who can offer me professional advise, provide insights about organizations I am targeting in my job search, and introduce me to people in these organizations.

It is important to know who you are targeting in your networking. Source: unknown author on Giphy.

I will start by putting together a list of people I want to connect to and a list of organizations I am interested in working for. I will, then, connect with people from the first list – either through other people who are already in my professional network or by sending them LinkedIn messages and invitations to connect. I will also start making connections with people working in organizations from my second list.

May – August 2021

The final four months of my networking plan will focus on meeting key people from my expanded network in-person. I will be aiming at meeting people who can help me make the next major step in my career – either by referring me to managers who have positions to fill in the organizations I am targeting or by giving me insights about these organizations.

I will also start giving back to the community by connecting with professionals who are just entering the industry to offer them professional tips, mentorship opportunities, and access to my network.

What do you think of my networking plan? Do you have any recommendations on what I can improve in this plan? Let me know in the comments below.

Sources

In writing this blog, I have used and cited the following sources:

COM0015 – Blog Post #3 – Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Although this program is related to social media, my professional network going forward will be primarily focused on the career change that I am currently undergoing. I recently obtained my Human Resources certificate and want to start studying to be a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) in August. 

Currently, my professional in person network is limited to the people I interact with through work or roller derby. My online network is LinkedIn which although updated, I have no problem admitting, I don’t use often as I should. I’m aware that I will need to use it more going forward in order to achieve my networking goals. The strategy I will use to develop my professional network online and in person is getting more involved in the HR community. When possible, I work closely with the Human Resources Coordinator at my work. This allows me to apply the knowledge I’ve learned before transitioning into the field. I currently work for a tourism agency which falls under the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport. My position allows me to interact with employees who work at a much higher level than myself. Getting my name out there and making a good impression is extremely important as I continue my career as an Ontario Public Servant (OPS).

 

In the next 6-12 months, I want to job shadow a CHRP within the OPS. I have spoken to my employer and she supports this initiative. I’m excited to interact with another Human Resources Professional in a different Ministry. I have been with my current employer for 7 years and I would like to learn about how HR functions are done in a different environment. Once designated, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) holds professional development events. ​​​​​​​​HRPA’s Professional Development programs “provide members and others with high-performance learning experiences designed to help members meet the demands of an ever-changing and increasingly global work environment”.  Events touch upon topics such as hours of work and overtime, principles & practices, onboarding, employee notice period, etc. The type of events ranges from in-person seminars, certificates, and webcasts.

From a social media standpoint, I should and want to get more involved on LinkedIn. I would like to get more connections and interact with others in the field of HR. This includes commenting on related articles and the posts people are sharing.

 

COMM0015: Assignment 5: Professional Development: “Creating Better Brand Content… All Year Long” Webinar

In today’s day and age, it is critical to be consistently educating yourself on the latest trends in technology and marketing.

I attended a webinar December 13th called “Create Better Brand Content… All year Long” put on by Annemaria Nicholson of Cision and Kerry O’Shea Gorgone of MarketingProfs.

The webinar was approximately about one hour, discussing how to plan content better in 2017, including being aware of possible legal pitfalls when posting social media content.

For social media success, it’s critical to have a plan in place. Kerry O’Shea Gorgone highlighted some key components of a good plan. This includes:

  1. Committing to establishing a timeline for promoting on all social channels.
  2. Catalog proposed projects.
  3. Examine Data & determine the bandwidth. For example, key performance indicators may include past overall performance, landing page views, downloads.
  4. Execute your vision. Plan sequenced content across channels while factoring in other calendar considerations (i.e. holidays, personal days, etc.).

Gargone argues it’s critical to have original rich content which should link back to the original website.

While it’s good to plan out content, one thing I was very appreciative about this webinar, was addressing possible legal issues.

 

webinar photo 1.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Adam Johnston 

 

These issues include:

  1. Copyright, including posting pictures to a social media site. One example is photos in the Creative Commons. Although some photos maybe “ok” to use from the Creative Commons, the panelists argued that some of these photos may be stolen, and face copyright concerns. They recommend creating your images and video to prevent potential copyright concerns.
  2. Streaming Video: with the rise of live video platforms including Periscope and Facebook Live, it’s easy for many to create their live video show. However, there are some possible quagmires, as noted by both Gorgone and Nicholson, including, filming in a very public area, accidentally filming company documents scattered all over the table, or marking board. Both panelists suggest filming in an area where there is no company documents or company information which could be breached by live streaming video.

Unfortunately, the webinar did not allow an opportunity to connect with others but was just limited to question and answers. If there is one major concern I have with many webinars is the lack of interaction between other participants.

Nonetheless, I thought this was a good professional development exercise, which I will take to heart heading into 2017.

COMM0015: Blog Post 3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

In today’s connected world, professional networking is the go to action when looking for work. Back in the old days, one could send in a resume, and get a job with just their skills. Now, professional networking is almost a necessary evil to get a job.

Today with social media, it’s easy to get into the professional networking craze. The most successful is LinkedIn, which boasts around 467 million users as of late October 2016, and attracts two new members per second.

 

LinkedIn Photo Post.png

Image Courtesy of Adam Johnston 

 

Other professional networking sites currently available to boost their career and business contacts, include Viadeo, and Xing, which gives many options for those who want to get into professional networking without just using LinkedIn, the most popular professional networking site.

Currently, for professional networking, I use LinkedIn, has been minimal at best. There has been lots of debate on the usefulness of professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Many recommend professional networking to move careers forward. Others have been critical to suggest sites like LinkedIn, do not create the interaction like Facebook, or Twitter.

However, professional networking sites do have an advantage because they are just that: professional networking sites. They are not there to discuss your kid’s tooth or that ugly Christmas sweater. These sites are for building careers, and businesses. Which is good.

Over the next twelve months, I plan to diversify my professional networking strategy. I am finding LinkedIn and online is limited. I look to use other professional networking sites, including Viadeo, to expand professional contacts, along with LinkedIn, outside of Winnipeg.

I will look to develop more local contacts, by using Meetup.com more. Meetup.com allows users to set up groups related to their interests, and plan events around the groups. With many groups focused on technology and entrepreneurship in Winnipeg, there is potential to grow my network locally, rather than just using LinkedIn.

What role does professional networking on social media have for you? Is it over-rated like some critics suggest? Do the benefits exceed the costs?

 

Post 3 – COM0015 – Professional Networking

Networking helps to put the pieces together.
Putting the Pieces Together

‘The more things change the more they stay the same’. This is a phrase that was coined in 1849 (source) and remains very true today. In spite of the technological world that we live in that reduces the virtual distance that exists between us – It does not change the fact that humans are social creatures. These technologies help to facilitate connections and community growth but people still need that face to face contact. In such a cluttered business and non profit environment – that personal interactive networking can mean everything.

My community is the Military Family Community. My role in this community is as a ‘seasoned’ spouse that has been through multiple deployments and long absences, many many moves, and even a three year posting separated from my husband for the sake of the kids. I feel that young people need an advocate and if I can assist in any way I would like to do that.

When we first moved to Ottawa I felt very isolated. We had always lived on Army bases where networking was built into daily life. Mess functions and Family days were frequent, and because the communities were so small, chances were that you were able to make an instant connection with your neighbour. The military community in Ottawa is spread across many communities without a vector for connection.

I stated a group. Military Families live on Facebook. The connection was easy. The group started small and has grown immensely, but what has made us different is the frequent meet ups that our group has. I organize monthly speaker breakfasts that are very well attended, welcome nights and games nights. All these events help people to find their way in their new community, assisting them to make connections of their own.

I started a blog. NoLifeLikeIt.com was born out of the group, designed to provide information to help families that was painfully lacking. Services and programs have been put in place to help but there hasn’t been a comprehensive way of getting this information to young families. This was the purpose of the blog.

Networking. in 2014 I was able to go to a True Patriot Love Conference on the Military Family. This was an exceptional two day forum that is still continuing to assist me moving forward with my group to this day. I was able to make many personal connections that have not only helped me with finding speakers for my group, but also to increase my credibility within my community. Once you have one federal director come to speak then it becomes easier to convince others that your group is worthwhile and that they should come to speak as well.  I would not have been able to get the Ombudsman’s office to come if I wasn’t able to say that we have already had Military Family Services, and Dependent Education Management.

Plan for the next 6 – 12 months. The group has become its own networking opportunity for the people that come to these events. I host speaker events once per month, and have social evenings 4 times per year. We also run coffee mornings and games evenings. These are already scheduled for the following year.

Personal growth. While networking within my existing community is wonderful, I feel that I need to continue to embrace new learning situations as they arise. I recently took a two day Mental Health First Aid course. This allowed me to meet people from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. I also attended the Military Mental Health Research Symposium, allowing me to meet people from the Personal Support Program as well as some defense research scientists. I would really like to attend the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) conference in July 2017 in Washington DC. Education for military families is sadly lacking as children are perpetually playing catch up as they move from one provincial curriculum to another. The MCEC conference will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how the United States has tackled this same problem.

I do not get paid for any of this so I am not sure it can be called ‘Professional’ Networking, but I have found that I seem to be fulfilling a niche within my community, and hopefully helping younger families navigate the rocky waters of a Military Life.

COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking now and in the future

Professional networking is very important in the development of a career. I don’t think it matters what field you are in, with a little bit of networking your resources and networks can grow and open up opportunities for you. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a company or someone lower on the totem pole, networking is important.

I think as communications professionals, networking is super important because the bigger the network, the more contacts you have to discuss strategies and projects, and also can possibly get a heads up from if they know a big story is coming down the pipeline.

Networking is important to me and it is one of the reasons I have continued my membership with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).  The local chapters hold great networking events to get local communicators in the same room, networking and discussing important topics. I used to attend these events regularly but as my career has expanded I found it difficult to continue them. I do plan and try to get out to more events in the next year, as I made a lot of connections in those early events, some that have helped me with job positions in their company and some have shared important advice.

While searching for some good external resources to source in this blog, I came across the following video that discusses the importance of networking and belonging to professional associations/organizations. It is a bit dated but I think the message is still important and valid.

 

On top of attending IABC events in person, I also plan on taking part in a few more of their online networking events. One event that I enjoy participating in is their weekly Twitter chats #CommChat.

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I plan to continue to participate in these events as it allows me to interact with people across North America and also gives me great resources and tools for which I can expand my skills set.

On top of the IABC networking I plan to also take part in more of the networking opportunities that my place of employment offers. These are a great way to meet new contacts within my organization, but also increase my knowledge on a topic that relates to my job.

COM0015 Blog #3 Professional Networking

 

 

 

As someone ongoing a career transition, I have spent a great deal of time over the past few months refining my networking approach both in person and online.

IN PERSON: Taking the advice of a career coach I was working with, I prepared a list of professional contacts who might be able to help me in my job search.  I then met with those on my list and asked not only for their advice but also for suggestions for other individuals I should meet with.  Through these referrals/ introductions I have broadened my professional network. I am aware of the importance of in person networking and have attended several networking events in search of new contacts.

ONLINE: My Twitter was heavily oriented towards my former career, over the past few months I have broadened the range of accounts I follow on social media. I have also joined several online communities such as Kids in the Capital and Yummy Mummy to broaden my online network. I have also found several online communities oriented to those looking for new employment opportunities, Peter’s New Jobs, Powertofly, Upwork and CharityVillage are all excellent resources, which not only provide job postings but also assist with professional development through online and in person networking opportunities and webinars.

LINKS TO GOOD RESOURCES:

http://www.petersnewjobs.com/index.html

https://www.powertofly.com

http://www.linkedin.com

http://www.upwork.com