Picture this: it’s the first day of college and you don’t know anyone in class. The professor splits the students up into groups and gets you and your classmates to do some ice breaker exercises. You don’t share much about yourself because you’re a little nervous, yet as soon as class is over you go to your dorm and add several of your classmates on Facebook or started following them on Twitter.
You don’t know them very well, but you figure it would benefit you down the road in your college career. You keep up with their posts, try to start conversations, and retweet their tweets – all without really knowing these people.
But why is it so easy to connect online and not so much when you’re talking to someone face-to-face?
Applying Social Media Skills To Face-To-Face Networking
Whether it’s the relief from pressure to engage in real-life conversations, or the freedom to express your thoughts and feelings, online social networking shouldn’t be the only way you communicate with others, especially professionals.
It’s been shown that the constant use of non-verbal communication could potentially disconnect people when it comes to face to face contact. “Only 7% of communication is based on the written or verbal word” the article states. “A whopping 93% is based on nonverbal body language.” So, while online networking is important, face-to-face networking is crucial, too.
Not practicing your people skills can be hurtful when looking for work. Sure, you can friend a bunch of people on LinkedIn, but meeting people or even just hanging out with friends could aid you in your job search.
Communications and business development consulting website, Global Thinkers published an article on the importance of word of mouth. “Interaction with customers and users is key,” states the article. “And they can also be your best asset.”
You do this every day when you connect with others via social media, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to use the power of word of mouth outside of the Internet. If you choose to use this to your advantage, you will only end up increasing your chances of getting noticed by other employers. So, don’t be afraid to talk about yourself to everyone you meet, and try to get away from your computer screen every now and then.
“Our facial expressions, physical gestures, and the emotional tone in our voice alter the meaning of our words, which is why it is very difficult to express ourselves fully and authentically in an email or text-or even in front of a Skype screen,” said Dr. Ana Nogales in an article published by Psychology Today.
Sometimes we’ll use emoticons or punctuation to compensate for the lack of facial expressions in social media. Why not use real facial expressions and body language when connecting with professionals in person? Smiling and giving a firm handshake could go a long way sometimes and make you memorable to employers.
If you’re having a hard time figuring how to use face-to-face networking to your advantage versus online social networking, just think about the ways you talk to your connections online and try to apply it to in-person conversations. It’s not so different and could help you build a larger network.