Table of Contents
Professional networking has proved to be a valuable resource in a job search. While offline networking took a backseat during the pandemic, online networking gained momentum. However, both have their own characteristics and benefits. With everything going back to normal, we recommend utilizing both types to optimize your job search. In this article, we will discuss how online networking is different from offline networking and which one would suit you better.
How is online networking different from offline networking?
Online networking refers to the expansion of your network through online channels such as social media. It is identified as a low-cost, time-efficient method that helps professionals reach out to their target audience conveniently. Offline networking, on the other hand, requires people to connect in person and discuss things face-to-face. Although this form of networking is considered highly effort-intensive, it is equally important as 40% of the world’s population does not use any social media platforms. Hence, both forms of networking serve their own purpose and are considered valuable.
Some common methods of networking online are:
i) Online events
Covid-19 led to an increase in online events, which continued even after businesses resumed services offline. The CEO of 6Connex– a virtual venue and hybrid events platform, stated that their virtual events business grew by 1000% in the early months of 2020. Even now, when everything has opened up, online events and meetings are here to stay. Thus, attending such events can be a great source for you to meet new people and cultivate long-term relationships. Some tools that can help you find such events are:
ii) Networking apps
The ‘swipe right’ culture is not limited to dating anymore. Shapr and Bumble Bizz are some apps that connect you with your target professionals with just a swipe. These apps are convenient to use and time-efficient. They match you up with the right people and help you initiate conversations, aiming to develop mutually benefitting relationships. Some other similar apps that you can try are:
The best way to network offline is by attending various events where you get an opportunity to meet people from different organizations and domains. While you can use all the above-mentioned platforms to identify offline networking events as well, we recommend keeping an eye on some specific types of events. Some of these include:
i) Alumni events
Staying connected with your alma mater can take you a long way. The alumni network of most universities is diverse and global. Attending alumni events being organized in your city can be a great source to meet new people. In most cases, people will also be happy to support you due to your shared educational background.
ii) Company events
Company events provide a good chance for you to connect with professionals from other departments and organizations. Thus, when you are looking to move to a new industry, such events add additional value. You have access to people from all levels and an opportunity to create a strong first impression. The relationships you cultivate here have a high potential to lead you to the next steps in your career.
iii) Local meetups
Local events happening in your city can introduce you to professionals working in diverse industries. It may also be a chance for you to consider opportunities you hadn’t thought about earlier. For example, you may meet someone working in the social sector. So even if you hadn’t always thought about working in the social sector, this might be a good chance for you to learn more about it.
These events could range from community services to happy hours. The purpose of the meetup may not always be professional, but a good crowd can always help you connect with relevant opportunities. Some tools that you can use to identify the events happening in your city are:
As it is well said, “A winning effort begins with preparation.” Whether it is online networking or offline, you always have to be prepared well in advance. Let’s have a look at some prerequisites for each type of networking in this section.
Prerequisites for online networking are:
- A complete, high-quality profile/account on your target platform (e.g., LinkedIn)
- Templates to reach out to your target professionals
- Background research on your target professionals
- A list of questions to ask
- Stable internet connection
Prerequisites for offline networking are:
- Effective elevator pitch
- Business cards
- Appropriate dressing for the event
- An open mind to approach multiple people
The 3 C’s of networking
Whether it is online or offline networking, the basics for each remain the same. Your focus should be on cultivating long-term relationships that can add value to both parties. In some cases, a professional may not be able to add direct value immediately, but maintaining a relationship with them can help you in the future. Thus, keep these 3 C’s in mind when networking online or offline.
Irrespective of the mode of communication, first impressions last. So whether you are networking offline or online, a lack of confidence can ruin your first impression on them. While we understand networking with strangers can be intimidating, practicing before your actual interaction can do wonders for you. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll sound.
Being courteous and kind is key. Not everyone you interact with will add value to you or act in a pleasant way. Nevertheless, be courteous with them and check if you can help in any way. Make sure you do not burn any bridges, losing out on potential future opportunities. Having said that, look out for people not interested in helping you. Spend minimum time and energy on them, and move on to others actually willing to make a difference.
Your target audience is not aware of your reason for reaching out to them. Thus, it is on you to communicate your intentions in the most effective manner. Let them know what you do, what you’re looking for, and your intentions of adding value back to them as well, in any way possible. Not communicating well can create a poor first impression- and first impressions last. This could also lead to them not being able to help as they would be unaware of your specific needs.
Which type of networking would suit you better?
Well, as someone looking for their dream job, we would always recommend going for both types of networking. Your offline networking efforts can reap benefits that you may not get from your online contacts and vice versa. However, we understand that networking can be daunting, and you may want to take it one step at a time.
If you consider yourself an introvert and shy, heading up straight for face-to-face meetings could be stressful. In such a case, we suggest developing a plan and reaching out to people online. You could start with your existing network, as you may have met/spoken with many of them at least once. As you get comfortable, reach out to more new professionals. Once you have connected with them, start a conversation and develop a rapport. You can then request them to e-meet you or speak with you over a call. Another efficient way could be to request the people in the same location to meet you in person. This will give you much more confidence when meeting someone entirely new.
On the other hand, if you consider yourself to be more outgoing and extroverted, attending offline events can be a great source of making contacts for you. We also suggest spending some time on online channels to harbor more meaningful relationships. A combination of both online and offline channels can fetch you great opportunities.
Networking is a great tool to support your job search. Many opportunities that you do not find on job boards can be found through networking. Hence, we suggest developing a networking strategy and following it. Go with the type you feel the most comfortable with and gradually move on to the other one. If you are looking for some help on networking, we are always here to support you.