Networking: The Power of Meeting Face-to-Face

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It’s no secret that online social networking outlets are all the rage. It seems that everyone has their own Facebook page or Twitter account. Not surprisingly, job seekers, as well as gainfully employed professionals, have found ways to utilize this technology to aid them in their job searches or to build their business.

In fact, social networking sites seem so popular that you might get the impression that traditional networking strategies are as relevant as your dusty collection of VHS tapes. But industry experts caution while online networking does have its uses, old-fashioned networking techniques should not be overlooked.

In a Boston Business Journal article, Christopher Parrington, Chairman of the Litigation Department at Skjold Barthel, a Minneapolis-based law firm, says that social networking is no substitute for in-person gatherings or events. “Face-to-face networking allows professionals to develop a personal relationship with their network, which cannot be developed using social networking sites”, writes Parrington.

Parrington aims his article at professionals looking to expand their business, but his networking advice rings just as true in the halls of the unemployed.  Many career counselors consider networking to be one of the most important ways for job seekers to find new positions. By maintaining and even expanding your network,  you may find out about a new opening before it gets posted, or, perhaps the glowing reference from a former boss, with whom you have stayed in touch, helps you land your dream job. The bottom line is: traditional networking can be vital in numerous ways.

For Parrington, another plus to good old-fashioned networking is it allows you to observe other professionals. One-on-one interaction provides an opportunity to see how other job-seekers and business people communicate and strategize and socialize. “The best way to learn how something is done is to observe someone else in action,” Parrington says.

Lastly, Parrington views meet’n greet gatherings as worthwhile because they offer the employee (or the job-seeker) a change of scenery, a chance to get out of the office or out from behind the computer. “Networking events provide a fun atmosphere to meet new people and break away from the rigors of the typical work day,” says Parrington.

The moral of the story is this: utilize online social networking sites to supplement your traditional networking efforts, not to replace them.

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