The newest trend in job searching is online networking. After several news pieces on using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to find out about job openings, profile pages across the web were updated with career objectives and professional looking photos. With the myriad of systems and products that foster communication in the electronic world, one might wonder if a networking meeting really needs to be in person. The answer is absolutely yes! While online options might initially achieve a greater quantity of contacts, they can not replace the in-person meeting as far as communication quality and impact.
An argument for in-person meetings
In his book, Book Yourself Solid, Michael Port argues that people buy from those they like and trust. This is never truer than for the personal service provider, also known as, an employee.
You are running a business. That business is You, Inc. It is a professional service business where in the application of your talents and expertise is your service and the employer is your client. When you are conducting a job search you are involved in a marketing campaign with the ultimate goal of selling your services to solve a problem or fill a need for your client, the employer.
In order to make that sale, you need to be liked and trusted. In every medium, the networking process is the same; you talk to people about your skills and the types of employment that you are seeking and then you ask for contacts to talk to that would have a position that fits. The ultimate objective is to find the hiring manager in need of someone like you to solve a problem or fill a job opening. While your online contacts might get you names, they can rarely get you in the door. Without the in-person meeting, how is that contact going to be invested enough to help you or the hiring manger know you well enough to want to hire you?
It all comes down to effective communication. Emails and social networking posts are only capable of communicating so much. Phone conversations are marginally better but still severely lacking in quality. In Decoding Inconsistent Communication, Dr. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA describes the connection between different kinds of communication. In his study, words account for only 7% of our communication effectiveness. Therefore, letters, emails, and social media formats are going to have a low impact on our target audience. Perhaps this is the reason sending resumes in response to job ads has such poor success rates for job seekers.
Phone calls do allow the recipient to have a live, two-way conversation that is a big step up from the written word. With the ability to engage in a give and take exchange, each party is able to not only hear voice intonation, but also question and probe for a deeper understanding of each other. However, as the voice tone accounts for only 38% of communication impact, there is still a lot of room for improvement in effectiveness.
This brings us to the face to face meeting. Body language accounts for the remaining 55% of communication. The people in a meeting can see how each other is behaving as the conversation progresses. The physical responses including facial expressions are as much, if not more, of a window into what the other person is thinking and feeling. This is where a deeper, more complete, communication level occurs. It is at this level that you can form the relationships that will open the doors to the hidden job market and expand your search beyond the same advertised job postings that hundreds of other people got a tweet about as well.
By actually meeting with people in your target field, quality contacts and managers will get to know you well enough to establish and develop a relationship based upon like and trust. Since people buy from people they like and trust, it is the method that makes the most sense to offer for sale the product known as You, Inc.
The most powerful communication between people happens when people meet in person. A meeting creates strong impressions and the meaningful communication can occur to develop a relationship that will encourage a person help you. Once you are sitting across from the right person, it is that same effective communication that will make the sale, or in this case, hire you. So while it is tempting to stay in the comfort of your home, emailing resumes and reaching out to your online networks, strive for the in-person meeting. The effort involved will be rewarded.
The Quality of In-Person Networking Meetings - Why a Tweet Just Isn't Enough