Note: In this guest column, career expert, author, Dallas Morning News columnist and friend of PRCG Tami Cannizzaro shares her thoughts on visiting our recent conference in Dallas. It’s also a great piece on networking! We enjoyed it so much we thought we’d share it here.
“OMG! You look awesome!” “So great to see you!” “How in the world are things going?” “We have SO MUCH to talk about!”
The room was buzzing with everyone talking, and shrieking as another person entered. The beautiful hors d’oeuvres went untouched; no time to eat when we had so much to say.
It was a business meeting, the kick-off event that would set the tone for the rest of the week. Colleagues who had become friends, getting together to catch up.
There’s nothing like it, is there? The camaraderie, the excitement, the “Is that what you really look like?”
Yes, despite years of doing business together, this was the first time some of us had ever met in person. The event could have been titled, “Old friends, new faces”.
I was particularly interested in attending since it would be the first time I would meet my publicist, live, in person.
Yet it didn’t really matter if we met or not. We already knew each other. Over the years we have logged countless hours on the phone. We’ve texted and Skyped and emailed and Facebook’d and Tweeted. Our business relationship is as rock-solid as if we had originally met in person.
So how did we ever find each other, several states away? Through networking, of course.
Much is said about the importance of networking in the business world. I talk a lot about it during presentations on career transition or when I’m working with college students. Who you know – your network – will be instrumental in both your business life and your personal life.
You never know who you know that knows someone.
My story is a classic example of networking at its best. It happened organically, which is usually the case. I was talking to another person in my network about a project I was working on when she suggested I contact her colleague, who had experience in the same area.
Introductions were made, we had a phone conversation and before you know it we had a business deal.
Similarly, job opportunities can happen through networking. It’s not always what you know but who you know.
Networking is so important to me that I purposely set aside time to send short notes to people, forward job leads, or to simply say hi. Even if it’s just a quick acknowledgement on social media, at least they know I’m there.
It amazes me that others don’t understand the power of networking. Recently I had someone tell me that they don’t use LinkedIn or Facebook. The reason? They don’t have time.
Whoa. That makes my head hurt.
Both are great networking tools, with different purposes that make it easy to connect with others. LinkedIn should be a no-brainer for everyone of working age. It’s your online showcase that tells your professional story to business colleagues. Recruiters search LinkedIn too, looking for qualified candidates.
FaceBook is clearly more social yet can be effective at building your network. Friends have other friends that might be able to help you professionally. Just be sure to take it off-line when you need to chat about a job.
Many people tell me that social media is a time-suck and that’s why they don’t use it. I say that’s an excuse; one that is only going to hurt them in the end.
Networking is part of your job, requiring some time and effort, as well as a bit of strategy. Build it into your work plan, set aside time, and do it.
Or you can sit back and wait until you really need a recommendation or, heaven forbid, a new job. That strategy – or lack of networking – may bite you in the butt.