By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Perhaps you have an amazing LinkedIn page and have connected with many business leaders online. You may comment thoughtfully on industry sites and blogs. That’s terrific; however, you should also network in person.
“Sixty to 80% percent of new hires are because of networking, not responding to an ad,” said Cara Battaglia, job placement specialist with Cayuga Community College.
Anyone can be part of your network; however, “students should try as much as possible to meet with professionals in their field to build a strong network,” said Eric Frans, a career coach with SUNY Oswego. “This can start right in their classrooms with their peers, professors, and staff members, and continue with alumni, past supervisors and members of their community.”
1. It’s serendipitous. Networking in person can help you meet on chance people whom you would never otherwise contact. You may attend a job fair or industry workshop (which increases your chances of meeting the right people more than just sitting in a coffee shop) without knowing who will be there and who’s looking for talent. Sometimes, everything lines up in mysterious ways.
2. It’s dynamic. “Someone posting on LinkedIn can give an employer information about them as a candidate but not what their personality and personal presentation is like and what kind of energy level they have,” said Meg Osborne, coordinator of career services with Cayuga Community College. “Those are things that are very impactful, as are non-tangible facets to identifying a good candidate. Employers get a better sense of that face to face.”
3. It’s friendlier. No one wants to hire a one-dimensional person. Meeting live helps recruiting agents and company executives get to know applicants as whole persons. Even factors unrelated to the official list of job qualifications may help you get the job as the boss sees a little of herself in you.
4. It’s personable. If you’re competing with someone with the same qualifications, you’ll get the job if your pleasant personality shines through compared with the applicants who seem stiff and pretentious. “Networking face-to-face adds a level of connection and authenticity that is unattainable online,” Frans said.
5. It’s in-depth. It’s likely your resume is one page. There’s only so much you can and should say on it. When you talk face-to-face, you’re likely to share more about yourself. The hiring agent or executive is also likely to share much more than what’s on a company website. In addition to helping the company know if they want to consider hiring you, this will help give you an idea of whether or not you want to work there.
6. It’s memorable. Hiring agents and managers see many resumes a month. They can become a blur of dates and academic achievements and qualifications. If you meet for real — whether for coffee (your treat!) or at a job fair — you can create a more lasting impression.
It may seem uncomfortable at first, but you should get out there and mingle. Always carry a supply of business cards bearing your contact information, your major and the type of position you’re seeking. Sites like www.vistaprint.com offer good quality cards at very affordable prices.
Also, if you and Ms. Boss seem to hit it off, politely ask for an interview. It may not be up to her to set up and conduct the interview, but asking makes your intentions known.