Social networking has become an everyday part of nonprofit culture. Blogging, tweeting, linking and Facebooking (among others) are day-to-day routines now for the Gen Y – but where does actual person-to-person networking fall into the picture? P2P networking has fallen to #2 on the networking scale, which could be a mistake for GenY-ers looking for a career or make ‘real’ connections. Here are 3 Simple Tips to Improve P2P Networking:
1. Bring a friend – It is much easier to meet people, if you start out the event with a friend. When you come with someone you will give off a vibe of an approachable group to either introduce yourselves, or be introduced. If you do not attend with someone, look for groups to approach, as it is much easier to keep icebreakers alive with more than two people. Do not be the person giving event feedback of “….I liked the event but networking is hard because I didn’t know anyone.”
2. The Art of Moving On – Remember at networking events, you are there to network. (well unless you are not, just know that beforehand) Saying no is hard for people, and so is ending a conversation. There is an art to gracefully ducking out of a conversation that is not reaching your goal. Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself to continue to work the room.
3. Follow up, Follow up – Social network and P2P network should complement each other. When you leave a networking event, follow up with your daily social network. Follow up with an email, tweet them to share opinions, and when appropriate link with them to join your social career network. Make a point to compile business cards and make sure to follow up with the contacts you have made. It will be worthwhile for you later.
While using your social network on a daily basis is a very simple (and effective) way to network, it is important to keep your relationships and P2P networking skills in top shape. Most likely you will be asked to talk to a client or work with a co-worker before you are asked to make a facebook update at your organization. Use your social network, but use it to complement those rare networking opportunities you receive.
Steve Strang is currently the the Technology Co-Chair for YNPN Chicago’s Executive Board. Steve also presented on “Board 101” at YNPN’s National Conference in 2011. In his day job, he works for the University of Chicago, as a Grants and Contracts Training Specialist within University Research Administration.