We all know the importance of social media, but there is still no better way to connect with people than to meet and converse with them in person. Yes, I just said ‘in person.’ As Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of online networking become increasingly popular it is important not to forget about taking time to go to job fairs or networking events to forge long lasting relationships.
Roughly 70% of communication between two individuals is verbal. This leaves 30% for non-verbal communication such as gestures, body language, facial expressions, and voice quality or tone. These forms of communication cannot be developed in online social media/networking. My intention is not to downplay the importance of networking sites but to make sure you are using all of the tools in your toolbox to reach your desired objectives. These objectives can be anything from building business relationships to finding a new career path. Because so many people rely heavily on the internet for new connections it is important not to forget about refining ‘in person’ skills. So here are a few easy to remember items I have used when going to networking events or job fairs:
- Be friendly and responsive to everyone
You never know who you are talking to and what might come of the conversation. Even if the person you are conversing with is not your primary target they may know someone who is.
- Don’t spend more than 8 minutes with any one person or group
If you are in a room with 400 people you typically want to make more than one or two connections. Many of these events only last a couple of hours so time becomes important. Remember, they are there to network as well. If you have spent sufficient time with someone it is okay to excuse yourself from the conversation and move on to the next.
- Don’t sell!!!!! Listen!
Even if your purpose is to search for a job a huge mistake I always see is that people talk about themselves and don’t ask questions. If you ask a potential client, business partner, or future employer about their company how much more likely will it be for them to be interested in you?
- Make sure you get their contact information and follow-up
There’s nothing more frustrating than making an amazing connection with someone and forgetting to exchange business cards. These new contacts now know you in ‘real life’ and can become a great asset in your internet job search. Find them on LinkedIn, send them an email, or even tweet about them. They will appreciate it and you will further solidify your new connections.