Monday, June 25, 2012

There's more to life than Social Media Networking!

So I just got back from a Recruiting Conference in Las Vegas.  As is often the case, most of the sessions’ topics were on social media.  I’ve been playing in the social media and recruitment sandbox for a few years now, so much of the material was a review for me.  But there were some good takeaways, and getting to spend 5 days in Vegas was fun (although in the future, I’m setting a maximum limit of 3 days for any trips to the Sin City…if only because, as a non-gambler, I get bored after a while).
But all that talk about social media got me thinking.  Have we really shifted that much in our interpersonal relationships and our means of interacting with each other?  Is that really a good thing?  Well, I can’t debunk what I’ve already said a million times about how great Social Media is for your career and your job search.  BUT I will say this…. SOCIAL MEDIA IS ONLY ONE MEANS OF NETWORKING…and quite frankly, if you’re not networking and interacting the old fashioned way (you know with handshakes, phone calls, hand written thank you notes, etc..), you are missing the boat.
Have we come so far that we’ve forgotten the basics?  Here’s the deal.  Whether you’re a baby boomer, Gen X, Y or a Millennial, networking is an absolute must!  Here are just a few ideas to help you become a better networker.
1.       Face-to-face encounters.  In today’s increasingly “online” world, in-person meetings are becoming a thing of the past.  We Skype, text, tweet, but we often skip out on the face-to-face meetings.  Making the time to meet with a colleague, friend or client will make you stand out from the competition.  If you’re looking for a job, trying to build your client base, or just trying to build a lasting relationship, don’t underestimate the power of the in person meeting.

2.       Handwritten thank you notes.  NO, I’m not talking about an email!  When you get business from a client, or when you have an interview with a prospective employer, a $2 card with a nice thank you note goes a long way!  Like I’ve said before, I get a dozen calls a day from people wanting my business and from candidates wanting to work for me.  The ones who take the time to send a hand written thank you note ALWAYS STAND OUT ABOVE THE REST (This is true of any other personal gestures as well….I had a candidate send me a USMC Christmas ornament once, which was awesome!  I hadn’t even mentioned the fact that I’m a veteran, but he must have done his research and found this out about me.  Talk about him winning me over!)

3.       Celebrate others!  Remember their birthdays, their anniversaries, their kids’ names and make sure you let them know you care enough to remember. Often, you don’t need to do anything more than a quick phone call to congratulate them.  Believe me, it goes a long way! People like to be remembered.  If you’re the candidate who remembers my birthday and leaves me a voicemail wishing me well, I promise I will remember you.

4.       Facilitate introductions.  This is the most overlooked, but the most important of all networking tips.  Taking the time to send an introduction or a job tip, etc.. to those in your network helps not only solidify your relationship with these people.  It also brands you as a powerful networker.  The Biblical adage “do unto others” is alive and well.   If you want to get the inside scoop from your network on jobs and other professional news, you’ve got to be a giver yourself.  Share what you know!  People will appreciate and reciprocate. 

Now, these are just a few examples of ways you can take your networking offline.  I’d love to hear from you on other means you use.  Until next time, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER and go network in real time!  Remember, a handshake and a hug (if appropriate) will make you stand out above the competition…whether you’re looking for a job, trying to get promoted or just build yourself a powerful network!