Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Value of Human Networking

Yes, my last post was on using social networking online to find a new position. I think it's critical to never forget the value of human interaction as well. After all, chances are you will be working for a human being, so it's good to know how to interact with them.

I belong to the ASTD (American Society for Training and Development). You can see from the name what the organization does. Since I do e-learning, this kind of organization is a perfect network for me to be a part of.

As often as I can, I will go to the meetings of the local chapter of the ASTD. I have met so many wonderful people, and handed out lots of business cards. I've also learned a lot from presentations that are always offered at the meetings, and yes, I have even had job leads.

Through these meetings, although I interact socially with as many people as I can, after I get their business cards (which everyone hands out because we are all networking) I will go to my online networking (particularly LinkedIn) and try to connect to them. Virtually everyone in the organization is aware of LinkedIn, and they are all eager to connect so we can all stay connected beyond the meetings.

These are some simple guidelines I follow when networking in person:

1. Bring enough business cards

I have a special holder for mine, and I always make sure it's full before I go to a meeting. I then use the same holder to keep the cards I receive. When I get home, I go through them and connect to people through LinkedIn, then put the cards in a business card holder I have.

2. Dress for success.

Maybe it's unfair, but people who dress up at these meetings stand out from people who don't. If you want to market yourself as a professional, you should look like a professional when there is even the chance you could interact with someone that may offer you a job in the future.

3. Be outgoing!

I know it's not easy for everyone. I can be introverted at times myself. If you know at least one person in an organization, you have them as a fallback position. The good news is everyone in the organization has a common interest, so it should be easier to interact with them than people who you have nothing in common with.

So far it's worked well for me. I have a freelance position I'm going to be starting on June 8th because of my human networking through the ASTD.

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