If you had to needed to fill a position in your company, would you hire someone based solely on an exchange of tweets? How about through direct messages in LinkedIn? Probably not. Most likely after connecting with a candidate online, you would want to meet the person and witness his or her demeanor and personality when they are sitting in front of you instead of a computer screen. This is how you ensure the quality of people you bring on board.
In the same way, LinkedIn and Twitter are great tools to enhance and maintain your professional network. But in order to get the most value out of those networks, many MBA students find that it is how they build and nurture their connections offline—genuine, human connections—that takes their careers to new heights. Here are 4 powerful networking alternatives to LinkedIn:
- Former Employers and Coworkers
One easy way to build a professional network off-line is to maintain good relationships with former employers and co-workers. Professionally speaking, these are the people who know you best — your strengths, weaknesses and assets. Staying in touch on friendly terms can help you make connections with other professionals in your field.
- Associations (Alumni and Professional)
Joining associations is an almost-instant way to significantly expand your professional network. Alumni groups and professional associations provide an excellent way to socialize with people who share a common school background or professional ties. Attending association events can lead to conversations with new people whom you might be able to help and — later — who might help you.
- Local Organizations and Meetups
Your local chamber of commerce is a tried-and-true way to connect in-person with businesses and professionals. Another way to network locally is by attending meetups. You can find a local meetup online at Meetup.com by browsing for groups in your area with whom you share a common interest. Even better, you can start your own meetup and establish yourself as the group’s connector.
- Friends, Family and Acquaintances
Do not neglect to look around your non-professional circles to see who can help you make good connections and build a professional network. Sometimes the best people to help you solve problems might be right under your roof. Your family, friends and even seemingly random acquaintances can give you an outsider’s perspective and help you tackle problems from a new angle. Chances are you have plenty of ways to help them with their professional needs, too.
Creating a strong professional network in a highly connected online world can be easier than ever before. The key is to take advantage of social media without neglecting the same networking methods that have worked for professionals in generations past. If you take time to develop relationships and show that you value face-to-face interactions, you may be able to grow personal connections that serve both you and your network for a lifetime.
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