Networking, be it professional or social, is fraught with dangers that leave us vulnerable to everything from data theft to digital abuse.
It’s no secret that one of the key factors that furthers your career is making the right contacts. And with the increase in professional networking apps we might think making such connections is extremely easy. Like Nithin Edgar, CEO of The Rendezvous Experts, says, “Today, over 3.4 billion people are connected on social and messaging apps. Spending an average of two hours or more a day on these modern channels, discovering information about people, products and brands has become second nature to most of us. Millennials, though connected, possess no filter of accurate information, images or reviews and often fall prey to ingenious marketing techniques. It’s evident that modern channels have brought us closer than ever, allowing us to connect and explore everything around us faster and quicker. At the same time, they have also made us so much more vulnerable.”
It’s true. Apart from marketing strategies, many of us even land up being catfished by fake online profiles and some of us don’t even realise it’s happening. But how does one up one’s networking game without falling into such traps? Image consultant and soft skills expert Nivedita Gowda sheds some light, “One of the best ways to understand if a person is reaching out to you in a professional capacity is the way they greet you and the tone they set for the conversation. Seeing a single ‘Hi’ or ‘hello’ and nothing post that, gets my creep-radar up! A person who means business will greet you in a professional manner and immediately follow it up with the reason they are contacting you. It is best to draw the line when someone starts getting personal on a professional platform; when their words begin to look like they belong on a dating website. You can politely bring an end to such a conversation, or, if the matter is more serious, you can exercise your right to use the ‘block’ button.” While it’s okay to shut down a potential pest, she reminds us about the etiquette for engaging with people on online portals, “While having a conversation, it is necessary to observe the basic etiquette of being polite and respectful to every individual.”
Vinod Arora, HR manager at a reputed firm, believes that with the advent of technology, it’s important for us to understand the core value of networking better. “Though these networking websites help in expanding your ambit of networks globally, they don’t only comprise of job providers.
“I believe youngsters aren’t using the platforms to the fullest. This could be because of lack of guidance or lack of confidence in youngsters who relocate from non-metro cities. It is essential to scrutinise and wisely connect with only fellow professionals, as opposed to every random person. For that, it is imperative to understand who your target is. Choose senior professionals of the industry and take time out to skim through their profile. Lastly, you must be proactive and responsive on these sites,” he advises.
Personal branding coach Sangeeta Bhatnagar feels that millennials are very comfortable with digital media and as they are the generation that came of age with computers at home. “Thus,” she observes, “The millennial knows the power of networking. However, what we need to understand is that along with flexibility to showcase ourselves, also comes the responsibility to manage our professional perception on these platforms. We need to be aware that our network works across various functions and we need to keep up with it by being creative enough to showcase our roles, achievements, and aspirations. If you feel trapped in such situations where progression to the next level seems to be a challenge, you can seek help from legitimate professional services. I always believe that you must ‘Be your own Brand Ambassador’ as you work the best for yourself.”