Today, the emphasis on “social networking” has taken on a new meaning. It’s no longer socializing face-to-face with friends or colleagues. It’s now connecting online. I propose we re-establish true social networking – the face-to-face kind, for building social and professional relationships.

When I moved to Cleveland, Ohio, I only knew a few people. I didn’t think that was much of a network. I quickly learned that it was a great start. For example, Bob introduced me to Jane, who knew several generous souls who shared time and resources with me. I met interesting people from different personal and professional backgrounds. I found a career resource group that met regularly. Some people led me to others in my fields of interests. Other professionals helped me hone my elevator/escalator speeches. There were mentors and coaches in the mix. And I made some friends along the way.

What did I learn?

  • Know that I need a professional and personal network.
  • Refine my elevator/escalator speeches.
  • Know what I am asking for.
  • Ask friends and family suggestions of folks with whom I can meet.
  • Be willing to share information and resources I have.
  • Volunteer for service in professional associations.
  • Get out and meet people!

Online networking is a wonderful way to start a conversation or arrange a meeting. If I want to build the relationship, I need to get out and actually meet the person behind the email.

What are your favorite methods for building strong professional or social networks?