There’s no denying the power of LinkedIn. It’s a valuable networking tool everyone should use, and like Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media, it’s a great way to meet new people, stay connected with old friends and colleagues, and seek out new opportunities.
But there are other ways to do these things, and in a great Daily Muse post titled “5 Old School Ways to Network That’ll Get You Better Results Than LinkedIn,” writer Kat Boogaard shares some great ideas that don’t involve laptops or smartphones. Her first alternative to social media: “your circle of friends.” According to Boogaard, it pays to share your professional goals and skills with pals, and if you decide you’re looking for a new job or changing careers, it doesn’t hurt to put the word out. Doing so might be your ticket to meeting someone who can help.
Next, Boogaard cites college alumni associations as a fantastic resource. If you went to a big school and/or live in a major city, there’s probably a local chapter of your association, but even if not, you should find out more about what your school offers in terms of online resources and face-to-face meet-ups.
“And before you start sighing, keep in mind that many of these events are created with socializing in mind — such as gathering at a bar to watch the big game,” Boogaard writes.
Similar to college groups are professional associations, which often host the same kinds of local get-togethers. These are a chance to get some free food and drinks but also to chat with others in your field. Boogaard recommends handing out lots of business cards and making it your goal to meet five people. This is where it’s crucial to have an “elevator pitch,” that quickie career summary that lets others know what you’re all about.
Of course, you can also network with people you already know, and Boogaard says former employers can be quite helpful. Instead of simply asking for references, connect with old bosses by sending them articles relevant to your field or inviting them out for coffee. As Boogaard points out, managers “tend to be well connected,” and as long as you left on good terms, that could bode well for you.
Last but not least is your family. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that your aunts, uncles, cousins, and even grandparents have professional lives, and that means they know people who might be able to help you take the next step in your career. Boogaard’s one word of advice here: be “reasonable and conscientious” with your requests. Just because you’re dealing with family, it doesn’t mean you should be pushy or ungrateful.