Putting yourself out there is a scary thing. It used to be that only a very specific type of people would do that- artists, writers, “celebrities”. Enter web 2.0 and we can all (in theory at least) connect to everyone, everywhere (I’ve discussed the benefits of having multiple connections in previous posts: https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/20/growing-your-network-as-an-introvert/).
But the fact that you can connect, and sometimes actively do doesn’t mean your are accessible. Most people will content with just connecting to people they know, or to people whom they’ve just met ( see https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/20/growing-your-network-as-an-introvert/), but that would be it. And it is a shame because every human connection has two sides. And if you’re not accessible, than you are making it harder for OTHERS to reach out to you. What do I mean when I say accessible? First of all- you must have some sort of online presence. Some place people can come and see you, hear what you have to say and be able to assess whether connecting with you is sensible for them. It can be social media account (obviously Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but also the more visual Pinterest and Instagram and the likes), a private blog or a corporate blog. Anywhere online which is the “digital you”. This was once an exception but today it’s pretty much standard practice for everyone. And even if you are exceptionally shy and reluctant to share any detail of your private life- do remember that you control every aspect of this exposure, so you can determine how much and what to share.
If you are still not convince- think of the downside of not having any online presence at all- in all honesty, this might appear as you have something to hide from the world (surely potential employers would be very suspicious of this).
Once you’ve set this up, do try to make it accessible- meaning allowing people to look you up, see your information etc. obscuring this using elaborate “privacy” settings defeats the whole purpose of being out there. Next, think about you inclination to receive connection request. Would you accept these from everyone, just people you know well or even from people you’ve met briefly? I believe that unless the other person clearly has malicious intents or uses questionable ethics (such as utilizing a fake image) it worth connecting to, if only to increase my visibility. And this is the real secret of networking in large scale networks- the more people you connect to (or connect to you), the more visible you become- hence more people are made aware of your existence seek to connect with you. Sure, some would like things from you – an intro to another person, or for you buy whatever it is they are selling. But for most people- they seek to connect from the same reasons you are. Some might even have a genuine interest in you and what you are doing, and, when called upon, will be happy to extend some help ( I will elaborate on how to utilize this enormous resource in future posts). So don’t be shy, and make sure you are visible and accessible. You network will grow as a result, and you might, just might be opening yourself to new opportunities which were never available to you until now.