How to make a real connection with other professional?
Ah-ha, gotcha! I don’t really believe networking is BS, however earlier in my career I honestly did not see the value and here’s why I was meeting the wrong people. In the beginning of my career I attended a several conferences, seminars and networking events and had a decent amount of exposure to HR folks. However, a majority of the time I had the luck of running into one of two kinds of people “The burnt out HR person” and “The blah blah me, me, me person“. Of all the many HR folks I met I only made two valuable HR connections (connections that I am still in contact with today!).
Here’s one super awkward example from my experiences. A couple of years back (before my professional social media days) at ILSHRM, I attempted to “network” during the lunch break. I approached three different tables with people and asked if I could join them for lunch. The first two tables told me they were full, the last table had one woman and she was the “classic burnt out HR person”. It was terrible! I felt like I was in high school, and that I was a huge LOOSER:(
But it’s not just me! Recently, in speaking with some of the younger folks at work about networking I’ve learned they too don’t see the value. Additionally the networking events I do attend in my community (from an eyeball perspective) the average age is 45+, not to mention many of these seasoned professionals have well established relationships so when they are at these event they are talking with each other. This situation is highly intimidating to “younger”/ “foreign” people. (Stay tuned for my post about seasoned professionals and being inclusive.)
Here’s how YOU can network more efficiently:
1:) Use social media to make connections. Using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and/or G+ or one of the many other social media sites out there will help you find “the good ones”, the people worth connecting to!! It’s kind of like how Match.com changed the dating world. Yeah, you’ll still meet weirdos but you’ll also have a greater chance at connecting with really amazing people in your industry!
2:) Once you’ve established the “superficial” social media connection, schedule a phone chat, G+ hangout or Skype call with the people you see potential value in. This will further your relationship and open the door to a real professional connection.
3:) Ask your new contacts if they will be attending any of the upcoming conferences, seminars, etc. If they are arrange a time to meet.
So that’s you’re 1,2,3 to making valuable connections and networking more efficiently.
On another note, if you’re like me and kind of shy, don’t be afraid to say hi to someone you’ve met through social in person or AKA “IRL”. Some will be receptive and some may not, but at least you can walk away saying you tried.