Yes, it is the age of technology.
No, I’m not here to bash the use of online networking sites.
Just stay with me.
I am an introvert.
I don’t relish meeting new people or putting myself out there in social settings. I do know, though, that this is necessary to become a successful professional in the workforce.
You can’t get a job without an interview, and most of these are conducted in person.
I learned about my current position at Insights through my friend and academic advisor, who also happens to go to a spin class taught by Kim, the founder of Insights and my current boss.
My application process for an internship starting this fall at Coldwell Banker Hickok and Boardman Realty was streamlined through a friendship with a girl who interned with them last semester. She gave me the email of the person I needed to contact and, since she was such an excellent intern, having her as a connection worked in my favor.
My entire professional career has manifested from a continuing process of networking, admittedly both face to face (F2F) and online, with my peers, colleagues, professors, and family.
I stress the importance of F2F interaction because that is how most of us do our jobs. We may sit at a computer and contact people via email on a daily basis, but we are still expected to communicate with our co-workers and superiors at the very least.
F2F networking allows for us to stretch our social muscles in a productive way that can improve both our private life and benefit our future professional careers.
Just a couple weeks ago I was invited to the first meetup of the Central Vermont Young Professionals Network (CVYP) by my supervisor Paige.
It was a casual meeting at Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier with a pretty decent turnout of around 20 people. During the span of about an hour and a half, I met and spoke with people just like me in a variety of different industries.
I spoke at length with a woman who works for TD Bank and will be a panelist at our next meeting on finances, along with three separate people from the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and many more.
The F2F networking gave an authenticity to the interaction that I know would have been missing in any other context. And, as a marketer, I can see all the ways I could potentially work with these people in the future.
I’m not trying to say you can’t make meaningful network connections over online platforms and I know that there aren’t as many F2F networking events as there used to be.
What I am saying is that you should still search out these F2F networking opportunities because it gives you the chance to make a deeper, more lasting, and potentially beneficial connection than you could on an online platform. If I had had the conversations online that I had that evening in Three Penny Taproom, I guarantee I would have forgotten them all by today.
As an introvert, I want to stress the fact that this was NOT easy for me.
I left the bar feeling like I had just run a marathon. The constant conversation, introductions, and new information had my brain going into stimulus overload.
But even with all that stress, I left with a feeling of accomplishment.
Maybe I would never actually need to tug on any of the contacts that I had made, but the net was there. Now, I am looking forward to the next meetup of CVYP and other F2F networking opportunities.