Social media is such a novel aspect of the job search landscape that it tends to attract a disproportionate share of job seeker attention. The benefits of Facebook and LinkedIn are dazzling, if untested, and everywhere candidates look, they find volumes of advice on how to “optimize their profiles” or use Twitter to land their next professional gig.
But if you’re in the process of searching for a new position, stop every now and then and place yourself in a hiring manager’s shoes. If you’re looking for a new marketing analyst or CNC programmer, which candidate will impress you more: The one with a profile you happened to stumble upon while browsing through Pinterest? Or the one who sat beside you in the airport waiting lounge, who was on her way to a family reunion, struck up a conversation with you, and blew you away with her ideas about product positioning strategy?
It’s one thing to hide behind a screen and click your way through the day, posting this profile and updating that one. This proves that you’re “tech-savvy,” or at least that you know how to sign up for a profile and enter your name into a box. But how do you face the challenges of the real world? Keep these moves in mind:
Five Key Tips for Offline Networking
Be fearless. Don’t be afraid of socially awkward scenes. If you approach someone at a party or event and they look through you or ignore your extended hand, that’s a little demoralizing. But it happens sometimes, and if you can bounce back, move on, and approach the next person without losing stride, you’ll cover more ground, make more friends, and vastly shorten the time you spend languishing on the job market.
Be cheerful. Your cheerfulness is a gift that you give to the people around you. When you’re in a good mood (or at least appear to be), people near you relax. They feel better about the scene and their role in it, and they tend to warm up and start talking. It’s annoying to be told to “smile” by strangers, but your smile actually changes the atmosphere in a room and makes it more conducive to your own success.
Be energetic. Sometimes when you’re in a comfortable chair and it’s raining outside, nothing seems more deadly than getting dressed up and heading off to a soulless “networking event” in a soulless convention center on the other side of town. But go. Leave the computer behind and get out there. Get ready to pin on your nametag and sip coffee from a little paper cup like everyone else in the room. You’ll be glad you did.
Ask people about themselves and really listen to the answers. Your value is measured in what you can do or offer to others, so listen carefully to determine what they need. Then connect them to whatever resources you may be able to provide.
Track people down. Everyone loves this. There’s nothing more flattering than words like “I’ve wanted to get ahold of you for a while now,” “I heard about you through a mutual friend and wanted to meet you,” or “I’ve read your work.” These are the greatest icebreakers in the world—when they’re genuine—and making a beeline for a very specific person, someone who’ve read or heard about with interest, can help you get the most out of the time you spend at networking events.
Finally, follow up. After an interesting conversation, don’t just walk away. Reconnect with the person before they leave the room and exchange contact information. Then really use that contact information. Reach out to the person at least once, even just to say you enjoyed the conversation. It’s impossible to predict the long term outcome of any five-minute encounter…but the only way to find out is to roll the dice, live in the moment, and bring the best side of yourself to every connection you make.
LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Youtube and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.