Recent Science Careers articles have talked about using social networks like LinkedIn as part of an overall networking strategy — the ones by Dave Jensen and Peter Fiske, for example. The goal of networking, of course, in person or online, is to build your collection of contacts and get your name and qualifications in front of a larger pool of people, including potential employers. Lindsay Pollak, the careers columnist on ABC.com, offers some pointers on how to better integrate social networks into your live-people networking, an approach called Clicks and Mix (a term coined by one of her colleagues).
The first step in this approach involves strengthening those networking capabilities that need work. If you’re tech-savvy but a little nervous about talking to strangers about your accomplishments, then consider joining a group like Toastmasters, which will help build your public-speaking confidence. On the other hand, if you don’t know much about the online variety of social networks, become more knowledgeable about them. Take a class, get coaching, or just explore.
But Pollak suggests other steps to take those new skills a step further. She recommends breaking out of your narrow age cohort when networking in person. By reaching across generational lines, Pollak says, you can increase the number of contacts and learn about more opportunities. Boomers should attend an event for young professionals and Millenials should go to an occasional “rewire, don’t retire” party.
With any means of networking, Pollak suggests, play up your assets. If you’re more experienced, emphasize your maturity and judgment. If you’re a recent graduate, focus on energy, enthusiasm, and technical smarts (if you have them). And don’t put yourself or your age down, Pollak adds. You are who you are; be comfortable with it and others will respond in kind.