Modern times have almost done away with meet-and-greet networking. It is exceptionally easy to go on professional networking sites and click to “connect” to someone you may or may not know. It takes care of the fear and the supposedly wasted-time going to meet others. It’s all about the quantity of people you know, right?
My friend and I had about the same number of connections on LinkedIn when I started to aggressively network. We had two different styles, though: my connections were people I physically met (or at least talked to on the phone). He initially started the same way, but then went on the mission of connecting with as many people as he could with the push of a button.
There are two types of profiles, whether on LinkedIn or any other professional network. These are the“Handshake” Profile, and the “Push-a-Button” Profile.
Benefits of the Handshake Profile:
• Your connections are likely to remember you because you two have actually met, however brief.
• You get out of the house or work (this is a must for us techies!)
• There is no replacement for giving a handshake: physical touch speaks volumes. You get a vibe of the other person, which no connect button, profile, or resume can give you.
• You get to look good: over dress rather than under dress. Most events are business casual or better – always look better. Ladies, flaunt a red shirt or dress. Men, put on a nice business suit. You can and will notice a difference.
• You are more likely to get a job or contract with someone you’ve already met. If they can’t offer you a job, then they know someone who can. And if they can’t, they will introduce you to someone who will. (See how it works?)
• Boosts your confidence, breaks you out of your comfort zone.<!–column–>
<!–column–>Drawbacks of the Handshake Profile:
• You have to go to many networking events. It may take at least 3 months (or at least 3-5 events) of continuous networking before a group of people recognize you.
• Some of these events are terrible. What’s worse is you won’t know which are terrible unless you go there. Once you know which are which, you can continue going to those events and drop the ones you do not like.
• You have to expect spending 2-3 hours around people, which may be more than one can handle after a long day at work.
• It is an investment: traffic, parking, business cards, and the fee to get into the event. For shy/introverts, courage.
I will be the first to tell you that I was aggravated when I was networking and made 15-20 connections in 3 hours, and he made 50 in less than 15 minutes online. It was almost defeating, but I pressed on with the handshake method.
Unlike other executives, I admit that I am an introvert and extremely shy. It took every ounce of courage to go up to someone I didn’t know and extend my hand. I believe the first event took me 30 minutes before I went up to someone. After about 30 events, that time went down to about 2-5 minutes. (Yes, I am really that shy.)
So do the benefits of a Push-A-Button Profile outweigh the nervousness of networking events?
Benefits of the Push-A-Button Profile:
• Can generate many relevant contacts in a matter of minutes.
• Don’t have to leave the comfort of your home, and for that matter, travel.
• No real investment except a few minutes each day on the computer.
Drawbacks of the Push-A-Button Profile:
• Unless you have already met your connection, the connection itself is very impersonal.
• Less likely to be remembered by the connection.
• Quantity over quality.
While it’s true no one can tell by looking at your profile which you did, you can tell by the difference in contracts and income. And while my friend may have beat me first to the 500+ LinkedIn connection mark, 90% of the contacts I have are through physical interactions. Those are people I shook hands with at a networking event, and often times had lunch or dinner with later. These people know and remember me, because they physically saw me and interacted with me.
And if they can’t offer me a contract, they know someone who can.