Last night, I attended a mediation training where we discussed how important it was to connect with the parties—the plaintiff/defendant, parent/teen, victim/offender, or husband/wife, among others. Specifically, as mediators we are taught to connect without showing bias. We discussed the value of building trust to gain traction and bring the parties together—hopefully to an agreement. Then, this morning I read a tweet that simply said, “Everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people.” —E. Nightingale. These concepts really made me think again about the difference between networking and connecting.
What is Networking?
Most of us understand networking as attending an event, introducing ourselves, exchanging business cards or contact information, and chatting for a few minutes. Often, we try to visit with as many people as possible—and forget some of them afterward because we did not engage enough to make a connection. We might even devalue the idea of putting ourselves out there again because the experience was too superficial. After all, it does take time and effort—and for some of the more timid and shy people, networking might require a counseling session beforehand. Quick-and-dirty networking is somewhat meaningless if we do not see the big picture and plan ahead to make a lasting connection.
What is Connecting?
Connecting really can be as simple as listening a little longer, finding common ground, and building trust to gain traction to solidify the relationship. If we invest just a little more time with perhaps even fewer people, we can start to develop a meaningful, long-lasting relationship. It could be a follow-up email or phone call to remind them of your conversation then offer to meet them for lunch or coffee. After the initial contact, we can build on the connection and stay in touch via social media, but consistent follow-up and engagement is the key to success in connecting.
Connecting versus Networking for your Job Search
It seems since the beginning of time, job seekers have been told it’s who you know. So we try our best to network, but do we really try to connect? Some people equate networking with posting their “résumé” on LinkedIn or updating their Facebook status by writing they are looking for a job. GovLoop, LinkedIn, Facebook, BeKnown, BranchOut, Twitter, and other social media are all tools for connecting, sharing, and engaging. Unless you pick up the hammer and hit the nail, nothing is going to get built.
The word “connect” is also fresh on my mind because a client recently sent me an email stating that my job title should be “The Connector.” Maybe that is why I have started to zero in on it. I do love to connect people—people to people, people with technology, people to jobs, and people to resources. It is especially exhilarating to help make these connections. In my LinkedIn and job search classes, I teach job seekers how to use social media tools to help make those connections. I practice—and teach—this strategy, because I truly believe that you will land a job faster if you connect, not network.
Job Search Quick Tips
Connect with people you do not know. What good are GovLoop, LinkedIn, BeKnown, and BranchOut if you do not accept invitations and connect? Ask for introductions. Step outside your comfort zone. Offer your services, knowledge, or expertise. Volunteer. Join groups that interest you. Connect with like-minded people. Show your value. Are you a bit shy? It is perfectly fine to lurk and listen to get a feel for the group, online and offline. Then, jump in. Connect then share. GovLoop is a perfect example and platform for connecting with like-minded professionals.
Who will you connect with today?
We have such great technology that enables us to make connections easier, and faster. Once we make the connection, we need to develop the connection. If you are networking online, try taking it offline to truly make it pay off. Most people do want to share their knowledge and help. Reach out. Make the connection!
Feel free to connect with me here on GovLoop!
You can also connect with me here:
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: CC Career Services
Google+: Camille Carboneau Roberts
I look forward to connecting!