This is a question a client asked recently and my answer is...maybe? Some people thrive on the idea of reaching out to new people online and starting a conversation. I often recommend to career changers and jobseekers to use LinkedIn to reach out to people to learn about new industries or jobs so they can learn more before deciding on a new career path. I've done this several times in my own career. But, in reality, is online networking worth the effort anymore?
The purpose of networking is not to get someone to buy from you nor is it to get someone to hire you. Good networking really means making a connection with another human being. Good networking can't be purely transactional. We need to go deeper with our intentions and manage our own expectations of what is possible with networking online. Here are some ways that I've made networking less terrible for me:
Go in with the right intention. Think of networking as building out a team of mentors and colleagues outside of your actual job. What types of people could you learn from? What expertise are you lacking? Who inspires you? Find people to network with who you are genuinely curious about and reach out. You will be way mor engaged in the idea of networking this way.
Be direct in your message. If you love their career trajectory and want to emulate how they got to where they are, then tell them that. Tell them upfront where you are and what you are looking for. If you are feeling lost in your job search and you are looking for new ideas, say that. Behind all the screens, humans are still humans and many people will relate to your challenges.
Let go of the idea of rejection. Just because someone you reached out to didn't' respond or *gasp* said no to yo
ur request, it doesn't mean they hate you or there is something wrong with you. The stars didn't align for that conversation to happen- move on to the next person.
Make networking a practice. I don't see networking as an all or nothing activity. I see it as a tool to add to your toolset. It's something you can do 1-2 times a week (or more) to help diversify your and enrich your network.
Bottom line, make your networking a
pproach less transactional and more human centered. Focus on why you are reaching out and be open to having amazing conversations and learning something new.