Social Networking: Stop being polite & start being real
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I owe a lot to Social Media and the blogging world. I’ve been around the block, but I’m still a pretty big noob to the “networking” side of Social Media. You learn a lot in a very short period of time about the right (and wrong) ways to approach the world of Social Media. And through my “trial by fire” I’ve been labeled as annoying and brilliant – and admittedly, both are extremely valid labels to slap on me.
In short, to get ahead, you have to stick your neck out, eavesdrop on other conversations, and then interrupt them. It’s not about being polite and saying “excuse me” – your focus has to be to listen and follow conversations that relate to you, and then know when to add your voice into the mix.
Seriously – the best way for you to make new friends is to force it. Much of what you know about conversation etiquette can be thrown out the window. Listening is the first step, but the best engagers know WHEN to step in and take action; when to reach out, say hello, and start a conversation.
If you’re out there looking for a job, maybe approaching graduation, moving to a new city – spend some time searching. Pay attention to the right people, and then don’t be bashful when it comes to stepping in and introducing yourself. ADD VALUE to the conversation – don’t jump in front of someone just to say, “Hey! Look at me!” There’s a fine line (that is often blurred) between shameless self promotion and a genuine helpful approach.
The best friendships and connections are made when one person adds value to another’s online experience. If you’re in the field of PR – do some Twitter Searches for PR professionals in your area to find – become a resource yourself and share relevant links and articles. Don’t let your age, experience or title hold you back. The great thing about the internet is that you don’t have to be an expert – titles don’t mean squat – it’s your level of engagement, interactivity, and personality that will have you standing out from the rest.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn as a job seeker. Coming from someone who recently moved to a new city, LinkedIn was extremely valuable in being that “first point of contact” – allowing me to reach out and say hello in an un-intrusive way. Browse LinkedIn for companies in your area and send a member of their staff a personal message. Don’t ask for an interview, instead, position yourself as wanting to “learn more about the company”. Try to set up a time to grab coffee. Even if an interview isn’t in the cards, putting yourself in front of the right people can be the foot in the door you need to take the next step.
Social Media is a tool – a valuable one to establish your presence within your community. Don’t be bashful when it comes to meeting new people, and don’t let Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn replace the importance of a face-to-face meeting. Your online persona should be more or less a gateway to establishing “real” offline connections.
How are you using Social Media to spark conversations, find jobs, and network with people in the area?
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