Lounge Talk With Laz Excerpt: Networking in the Digital Age

Hi there and welcome back to episode 12 of Lounge Talk With Laz. In today’s episode we’ll be discussing networking in the digital age. Let’s just jump right into it! Networking in the digital age is incredibly important for individuals in the professional world, especially for graduates getting their feet wet in their industry of choice. I’ve found that getting a job is as much about who you know compared to what you know. 30 percent of it is knowing the right people, 30 percent is the skills you have, 20 percent is name recognition on your resume and the other 20 percent is sheer luck.

In the past few months my zone manager has stressed the importance of building my brand and networking with as many people as possible at General Motors. These people might not be directly in your professional circle, but if you switch jobs they may be the deciding factor in getting hired in a new position because they knew who you were, put a good word in and recognize the good work you’ve performed in the past.

Passing business cards around at events and socializing as much as possible is a traditional method of networking. With the digital age surging forward, I would argue that professionals need to build their brand and network through digital efforts alongside traditional methods.

As I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, during my days as a budding journalist I detested social media. If I could do it again, however, I would have begun developing my social media presence right out of high school.

The number of followers you have that are relevant to your niche and the engagement you receive on posts are held in a certain regard. Employers in related industries may knock you for not having a high follower count or your posts not receiving a significant amount of engagement.

There is a level of authenticity that is associated with follower counts; while it’s easy to spoof your numbers by spam methods employers will associate your high follower count and assume that you’re a thought leader or knowledge expert in the industry; there’s a reason people are following your account for the content you post in your niche, right?

Beyond the follower accolade, social media allows you to network with literally anyone in the world. This is huge in the way that we can communicate and send messages in 30 seconds. Recruiters can view your profile and reach out with a job opportunity at any time, you can like and share posts from businesses you’re interested in working at, or throw your opinion into the comment’s section of a thought leader or knowledge expert you avidly follow on social media.

Networking in the Digital Age Anecdotes

As an anecdotal example my friend is entering the field of percussion symphony after graduate school. There are auditions occurring bi-annually in the United Kingdom with a well-respected group. The group orchestrating the auditions posted about it on Facebook. My friend liked their post and a group member sent him a personal message encouraging him to audition.

Another example is my own brand and social media presence as part of Laz’s Lounge. Over the years I’ve taken steps to network and connect with thousands of people on social media through interacting and engaging with content alongside creating my own content on a weekly basis. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a plethora of thought leaders and knowledge experts that have enhanced my brand and offered me several opportunities to work with them.

LinkedIn is a social media platform specifically made for networking with professionals in various industries. I might not always use it in a strictly professional sense regarding what I post, but it’s the best platform for professionals looking to connect with others and share ideas amongst one another. It’s a platform where I’ve accrued the most call backs and interviews for jobs. By showcasing my digital portfolio and resume a recruiter reached out and asked me to interview for this position in General Motors.

Look at it this way: traditional methods of advertising are slowly dying out and being replaced by digital, yet at the present time they still hold importance. If you view an eye-catching commercial on television, where do you go next to learn more about the company or product? Straight to social media or Google.

We can apply this to networking in the digital age. We make efforts to network and exchange contact information at networking events in person. Connecting on social media allows us to continue the conversation in the digital space and stay relevant with the person we connected with as they see our names in their newsfeeds every week. It’s a way to show them that we’re thought leaders or knowledge experts. It’s a way to show them our professional and personal accomplishments as they come about.

If we’re actively looking for a position or showcase something rather insightful, they might be inclined to reach out and offer us the opportunity to interview for a position at their company, or help us with something in our position.

It also needs to be a two-way symmetrical communication model. Social media is all about communication and engagement between two parties, not a take-take relationship where you’re actively wanting something from the person you networked with.

Networking in the Digital Age vs. Traditional Networking

For me, while I’m great at remembering people that I’ve met in the past and actively look at my collection of business cards, others might store them away to gather dust. The conversation stops once the business card is collected, or people might feel odd emailing or calling a relative stranger they met at their networking event.

Social media and digital allows us to show a little personality and lessen the formalities that comes with reaching out to someone you talked to for 10 minutes at a networking event. Again, it allows you to continue the conversation and to stay relevant after meeting.

Don’t get me wrong, traditional networking is still important; it’s how I got nearly half of the jobs that I’ve held in the past four years. But digital networking is much more effective means to stay in touch compared to exchanging contact information that might not be used for weeks or months. This is also why building your brand and social media presence is necessary.

There’s a level of forgiveness if your branding isn’t fleshed out while in college. Many recruiters and experts will understand that’s why you’re actively pursuing higher education, to build your portfolio and brand. They might have a negative perception of you if your brand is nonexistent and social media presence is limited when networking digitally.

Again, digital networking is to carry the conversation; there won’t be any conversation to carry though if there’s nothing to engage with a limited digital footprint.

Social media, building my brand and networking have changed my professional life in so many positive ways. The world is changing and professionals needs to use these readily available digital tools to stay relevant and connected in their industry.

That’s all I have for this week’s episode of Lounge Talk With Laz; stay tuned next week for more of the latest and greatest in digital marketing and social media news!

Laz’s Lounge Question of the Day: Networking in the Digital Age

What methods do you use for networking in the digital age? Do you still feel as though traditional networking is just as important as digital and social media networking? Let me know in the comments below!