Social media networking is all the rage today. Which got me thinking. I should write about what isn’t getting as much play, but is still central to achieving results – whether it be finding a new job or developing new clients. In my experience, the best way to accomplish what you want is networking and meeting IRL – In Real Life.

With today’s online tools, you can find and connect with like-minded people at high speed. Electronic connections seem to advance quickly. The reality is that they can be limiting in forming deeper, trustworthy relationships.

There is no substitute to looking into someone’s eyes, seeing their body language, and feeling the chemistry of a person-to-person meeting.

Call me old-fashioned, but results speak for themselves. When I meet with people, the probabilities to influence outcomes increase significantly. And the same can for you.

The three levels of networking:
Level 1) Virtual information exchange. An email or online link in social media.
Level 2) Voice conversation and/or video. By phone, skype, video posts.
Level 3) In-person meeting. Most powerful relationship builder.

Networking IRL takes an investment of time and commitment. You must be proactive, know yourself and know what you are looking to achieve in a meeting. You must have a social mindset, be engaging and have fun with it.

Critical to networking success is putting yourself in the right places,
at the right times, with the right people.

Networking at an event with a common cause can be a very positive experience. It is about community involvement and connecting for a purpose bigger than yourself.

Great places to network IRL:
– Faith-based groups, volunteer/charity events.
– Social clubs, sports games, political rallies.
– Trade associations and conferences.

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Calling all Talent Acquisition, Recruiting and Staffing Professionals!
Please join us. I will be speaking at two (2) recruiting industry events:

September 29-October 2, 2010
National Association of Personnel Services, St. Louis, MO
Buy discounted tickets here: http://bit.lydpifMI
http://www.recruitinglife.com

October 7-8, 2010
RecruitFest! Boston, MA
Buy discounted tickets here: http://bit.ly/d8qXSE
http://www.recruitfest.com/about

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There are many excellent resources – books, articles and blog posts – written on effective networking. Google “How to Work a Room” and you will find many techniques and strategies.

Here are 10 tips for networking IRL:
1. Do pre-event research. Who will be there? Their backgrounds/interests?
2. Dress for the party. If you feel good, you will do good.
3. Go to the drinks and food to meet new people.
4. See someone you know and be introduced to others.
5. Be welcoming. Eye contact, smile, nod as if you’re saying “hi”.
6. Be the conversation starter: Handshake, “Hi, I am… Great event. Have we met? I’m from…” Or, break the ice with a topic in the news.
7. Focus on the other person: “Where are you from? What do you do?”
8. Listen more than you speak. Laugh.
9. Tell a story or anecdote about yourself. Be memorable.
10. Exchange cards. If you say that you will follow up, be sure to do it.
Rule of thumb: If your aim is to maximize IRL contacts, spend no more than 10-15 minutes with each person/small group .

When you are enjoying yourself, you are more relaxed, you are more confident and you are more engaging. You will naturally open up about who you are and what you do. You will attract people. (Keep in mind to weave into the conversations, subtly toward the end, what you are seeking – whether it be a job or new business.)

This is a recent article in Forbes on “How to Work a Room” http://bit.ly/c7R6Kc

Like online, networking IRL is an acquired skill. The more you do, the better you will get. Remember that people want to work with others who are upbeat and have a “can-do” personality. You can show them that in your networking.