Networking has evolved as technology, namely social media, has changed the way we connect with others, look for jobs, source clients and even choose a mate. The good news is that you don’t have to be a computer wiz or even smartphone savvy to take advantage of all the new and exciting opportunities that these social and technological breakthroughs have to offer. At its heart, social media is still about connecting real people with drive, passion and purpose.
Not only do you need to be careful about what you share on different social media networks, you also need to be choosy about the social media networks you join to begin with. If you have a lot of poorly populated, half-hearted social media accounts, ranging from Snapchat to Google+, that’s a clear signal to potential employers or clients that you lack follow through. Delete accounts that aren’t driving traffic to your website or profile. And limit yourself to five sites or less; otherwise, maintaining these sites with daily consistency can become a full-time position in and of itself.
Get Tech Savvy
New smartphones, like the iPhone 6 Plus, are making on-the-go social media a lot more fun these days. Huge display screens make watching a video or checking out your latest hike on Instagram an event that several people can participate in without huddling around a tiny screen. Professionals also love to talk about apps like “CamCard,” which scans, manages, syncs and exchanges business cards digitally, and the “Odometer” app, which tracks your mileage on business trips. Networking is about give and take, right? Share a few tips or tricks with a colleague, and they’re much more likely to remember you fondly and sing your praises to others.
Get Out of the Office
There are so many ways to expand your social circles beyond your former classmates and mutual friends. Stepping way out of your current group of professional and personal connections can be scary at first but is the epitome of networking like a pro. Just think about the classic adage: to catch more fish, just cast a wider net. The key here is making sure that net is well constructed and properly weighted before casting it off shore.
In other words, networking events are less effective than “real” events because “real” events involve people with mutual interests besides, well, networking. The key is to find new groups of people who do activities you’re truly interested in and are complimentary to your personal brand or ethos.
Sports teams, book clubs, hiking clubs and fantasy football are only a few out of the endless options. Meetup is a great place to start looking for other people whom you share an interest with, thereby eliminating that awkward forced introduction.
The Selfie Stick Conundrum
Yes, we have all seen selfie sticks by now. Whether you laugh, cringe or start looking up how much they cost on eBay (they’re crazy cheap FYI), you can’t deny that they are a fascinating social phenomenon.
Look at it this way: you can take a selfie of yourself with just about any camera. But a selfie stick allows you to capture more of the background and, more importantly, the people around you. When you take a selfie of everyone in the hiking group or book club, and then share it to social media, you are promoting doing something with your time and showing that you value camaraderie and teamwork. The more you can make your social media presence about inclusion, fun and good people, the less selfish those selfies become. And, as a result, you become more approachable, memorable and well-rounded to your peers online.