You Don't Know Who You Don't Know.

Author:McCaffrey, Rachel
Position:Perspective
 
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* It's likely everyone reading this is familiar with the phrase, "it's not what you know but who you know." This sentiment is particularly relevant when pursuing new professional opportunities since, according to LinkedIn, 70 percent of people hired in 2016 found a position in a company in which they had a connection.

What the statistics don't tell us is how people connected. Clearly LinkedIn and other social media provide powerful tools for maintaining a robust professional network. However, while technology makes connecting easier, it struggles to replicate or replace the value of in-person, real-life connections.

Some may disagree about the need for in-person networking, arguing social media tools provide a rich environment of potential professional contacts. While online networking can create value, especially when sharing tactics and techniques for building a business plan or defining a potential customer base, it alone cannot create meaningful relationships. Email and online forums provide great tools for exchanging information, but they generally don't lead to personal testimonials, which can provide an edge to job seekers or sales professionals.

Consider your willingness to make an introduction or offer a recommendation for one of your contacts. Are you able and willing to provide enthusiastic, unequivocal support for someone you've only met electronically? Probably not. Digital contacts hesitate to risk their credibility or reputation by providing a glowing recommendation for someone they've never met. Meeting in-person provides background, context and understanding online tools cannot deliver.

Consider how companies make hiring and partnering decisions. While most businesses leverage online tools, they generally won't hire a candidate they haven't interviewed in-person. And for executive level positions, most companies require a series of in-person interviews to determine suitability, not only for professional skills but for cultural alignment. When you apply for a job, companies review your resume and many of them will review your LinkedIn account and other social media. But they're unlikely to make an offer without meeting you, shaking your hand and assessing your organizational fit.

For most executives, their network is a tangible asset, one they're unlikely to risk for someone they haven't met. Professionals build reputation not just on their business successes, but also on a network that can mobilize support for new ventures...

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