Twitter takes the 'work' out of networking

If you are a seasoned recruiter then it's likely that networking comes easily to you. And by networking I don't mean running around a crowded room, stuffing a business card into some strangers pocket and trying to close 'close a deal'! I mean being able to engage with people you have never met, share some experiences and yes, possibly find some common ground on which to build a business, or personal relationship.

But, like many others from all walks of business life, those at the less sales oriented end of the recruitment spectrum can find the notion of networking a daunting one. And, in my experience, another group that find it extremely uncomfortable are HR professionals. Whilst many of us have taken the plunge and overcome the fear, there are others that no amount of coaching, tips or strategies can make them any more comfortable with it.

And that's where twitter comes in. Having been an active twitter user for nearly a year now I have found many advantages with it including access to information, contacts and opinion that I couldn't find elsewhere. But in running a recent event - a tweetup for HR professionals - my eyes were opened at how powerful twitter can be both as a marketing tool for those organising events and as great way of taking the stress out of networking for those attending.

In the organisation of more traditional events, there would be very little dialogue between the organisers and the attendees beforehand, save for the odd email confirming attendance, dates and times and reminding people to show up! This time, things were very different. A dialogue around the event started on twitter as soon as we announced it, and as more people signed up, more got in on the 'conversation'. The enthusiasm for the tweetup was obvious and watching the momentum build in the weeks leading up to the night was fascinating.

And without realising it this simple tool had addressed one of the key issues of organising events - attendance. The build up was so powerful that the drop out on the night was way lower than it would have been at a traditional event. Even the pouring rain didn't put people off staying out for the evening!

Probably the most significant benefit though was to the attendees. HR people, as I said above, not comfortable with networking, were transformed. The ones that were on twitter were able to converse beforehand, share comments and communicate. As Mike Morrison, one of the attendees of the event, said in his review of the evening:

"With (events) based on social networking, many of us had “met” on line, shared a tweet or two and we recognise the name. The introduction or ice breaker is done.. and real conversations can start easily. This format worked well for both those that were socially confident as well as those there were less confident meeting “new” people."

As he says, twitter had given these strangers the ability to connect before meeting, feeling that they already knew each other on one level, yet still be total strangers on another.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this post, twitter has so far only found its way into the smallest slice of the HR community which is a real shame. It's a hot topic in HR at the moment and one can only wonder how HR professionals can adequately advise their colleagues and organisations on how to manage and engage with social media if they are not 'in the conversation' themselves. But thats a whole other post!

And whilst there are definitely more recruiters out there using it, they would do themselves a distinct favour if they stopped using it to punt out jobs or cheesy sales messages.

Whatever your current role - if you are in any way interested in improving your networking skills and you are not yet on twitter I would strongly recommend that you use this as your excuse to sign up!

NOTE: If you are an HR, Internal Communications or Inhouse/Internal Corporate Resourcing professional who would like to push the networking boat out a bit around the theme of social media then please join us at the next tweetup in London on the 24th June. We would love to have you there - and of course have you join in the conversation in the build up! Click here for details of the event.

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