Networking has gone digital, but have the rules changed?

January 17, 2018
The ICT Association, ICTAM, has been involved in talent discovery within the technology sector for decades, and we have come to learn an interesting incongruity. It is often old-fashioned handshakes and networking that are most effective in helping candidates secure technology-based jobs. This is especially true for young people finding their first job.

In a world of ever-increasing technology, it is a handshake that can often help you land your next great job, or your first ever job. We mostly think of shaking the hand of someone that you have met in-person at a networking event or through colleagues, but networking is increasingly going digital.For example, Dave Wilkin is creating a global network that enables anyone to have access to the conversations and experiences they need to move their careers forward. He created a company called Ten Thousand Coffees as an online platform for networking. According to Mr. Wilkin, enabling people to have conversations with people they otherwise would not have access to is the way many job opportunities are going to be realized in the future.

Effective networking is an invaluable skill, even if you are not currently looking to make a job change.  The Brookfield Institutes for Innovation and Entrepreneurship states in a 2017 report that 41.9% of all current jobs are “highly susceptible” to automation in Canada. That means that your job is likely to change, or be eliminated altogether, whether that was your choice or not. Your network is your safety net…how well have you developed it?

Here are a few tips to help you become a highly effective networker. . .

  • People do not always remember what you say. They remember how you listen. No one is going to find you as interesting as they find themselves, so ask good questions and really listen to the answers. You are never going to learn anything new if you do all of the talking. Your job is to learn as much as you can about the people you meet, so you can determine in what way you may be able to help them or someone they know in the future.  Eventually, that approach is going to help you.
  • Stop telling yourself that you are “really bad at names”. This is not only a self-fulfilling prophesy; it just isn’t true. As memory expert Jim Kwik says, if you knew that you would be given a suitcase of money if you could just remember the names of the people you met at a business function, he guarantees you would do it. And he has conducted this social experiment to prove his point. You have to be motivated to remember the name of the person that you just met and be focused on that person whose hand you just shook.
  • Networking is NOT the place to sell.  It is the place to build relationships.
  • Be confident. There really is no one better than you.  Better dressed or better read or better paid, perhaps. But not better. “If you are your authentic self, you have no competition.” says marketing expert Scott Stratten. Don’t be just another business card. And don’t forget that its been proven that you appear to be more confident if you appear to be happy.
  • Be charming. Know how to be charming? Be sincere. There are plenty of individuals who are uncomfortable walking into a room full of people because they don’t know how to start a conversation or they don’t want to ‘butt in’ on an existing conversation.  Stop trying to be creative. Or impressive. The best opener is “Hello. My name is _______”. Extend your hand and smile. Boom.  You do not need to have a clever thing ready to say, rather just ask a question. Back to point one, most people’s favourite topic is themselves, so ask them what brings them to this event, or what their connection is to the host. Make it easy for them to engage with you.
Both the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and ICTAM have countless opportunities to hone your networking skills and to possibly meet your next invaluable employer.

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