The social scene changed in the early 2000's.
Personal space became My Space. And then faces became Facebook; small talk turned into tweeting and networking developed into LinkedIn…
And although LinkedIn is the #1 online professional networking platform (and you need to be on it), the emergence of social technologies has made it very easy for job seekers to submerge themselves, and their search, strictly within the digital realm.
Real life networking is still a valuable tool, allowing job seekers to make tangible connections that adds that extra in-person touch. And when you’re seeking to make a memorable impression, you may want to brush up on those people skills along with your technical ones and try networking at these offline hotspots:
1. Volunteering (at industry-related events)
You don't always have to pay to play. Volunteering at industry related events not only gives you experience and exposure to your field of interest, it also provides an opportunity for future employment with the organization you're volunteering with. In the event that a full-time position opens up or there's contract work available, a hiring manager is more likely to remember the people who worked for the experience first before the paycheck.
Take away: If you're interested in working with that organization again in the future, make an impression by making your interest known to whomever is organizing the event or is in the position to hire.
2. Local meetups
Besides tech meetups being a lot of fun, these organized hubs of creativity and innovation bring together leaders, innovators and enthusiasts all under one roof in your area - or in a city closest to your location. Local meetups are typically held on a monthly basis, providing an opportunity to form and make long lasting connections with people you may meet with on a regular basis.
Take away: Use sites like Meetup to search for events closest to you.
3. Professional conferences
Professional conferences offer the opportunity to gain new insights on industry trends, forecasts and things that impact your field of interest from the leaders themselves. Mingling and connecting aside, this knowledge has the power to propel your candidacy forward when you meet a hiring manager and discuss your professional acumen. These types of events also put you in the same room with like-minded individuals who are there for similar reasons. Strike up conversations and make a lasting impression.
Take away: Don't try to sell yourself right away. Build rapport first and then segway into a brief, precise and prepared summary of you and your business. Remember to also always get information and to follow up.
4. Previous colleagues
Unless that bridge is burnt, re-connecting with previous colleagues, employers, friends and collaborators is a great way to uncover new opportunities. You never know if he or she will know someone who's hiring, and a referral from someone you trust goes a long way.
Take away: Connect offline or online with people you've worked with; casually mention you're looking for a new opportunity and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anything.
Some say it's not what you know, but who you know that matters, but all we know is that sometimes it's a combination of both.
Soft skills employers want in the new work world