For a long time, I have been a huge advocate of using online, social media platforms to make connections with professionals in one’s given field of choice. Specifically, I think it’s a great tool for students and young professionals who haven’t found the best fitting job for them yet.
Conversely, LinkedIn, known as the professional social
network, is great for connecting because connections on the site are generally only made between people who actually do have a legitimate offline relationship. In other words, it’s more authentic.
I want to clarify this a bit further, though.
As great and useful as online networking may be, it isn’t quite a complete substitute for meeting someone IRL (in real life) and establishing a proper relationship with them.
Last week, I attended the Rochester PRSA‘s Media Mixer event, which was a networking event composed of about 30 local professionals that work in PR and journalism. Karen Olson, APR, my PR professor at Brockport and current President-elect of the Rochester PRSA, ran the event.
Karen, above anything else that I know of, loves facilitating networking. She does it in her classes, in her professional life, and even in her social life. In fact, she even copyrighted Quick Meets, the format that she uses for networking events that she holds.
Ms. Olson takes a very different approach to networking than you may be familiar with, however. She says,
“if you can connect with someone on a personal basis first, you are much more likely to have a good working relationship with them in your professional life.”
For that reason, Quick Meets is designed not to allow participants to simply talk about their resumes for four minutes, but rather to find something they have in common with one another and explore their common ground.
What I’ve learned from this experience, as well as from a few other networking events that I’ve been a part of, is that there is no simple way to make a ton of professional connections at once. Relationships take time, effort, and interest to cultivate, regardless of whether they are romantic, social, or professional in nature.
Do you agree? Or is a Twittership just as meaningful as an IRL relationship?