Social media has infiltrated many facets of our lives, but when it comes to landing a job or career advancement, nothing beats in-person networking.

Too many professionals rely on social media, instant messaging and email as replacements for human interaction and connection in the office and during the job hunt. While online networking can be efficient with establishing initial and then maintaining regular contact with potential employers, without actual face time, a social-media only relationship will lead to professional dead ends.

No one wants to hire based on just a resume or an online profile. When organizations are looking to promote from within, leaders are more likely to consider an employee they just chatted with at a company picnic than one who stays confided in a cubicle. A case of office politics? Maybe, but people prefer to hire and promote those they trust before strangers whose online profiles or correspondence can be staged or orchestrated.

However, face time is more than just a professional 'must do.' It's an opportunity. Here's why:

  • It allows job seekers to stand out in a crowd. For each job opening, the virtual hiring highway is packed with profiles, resumes and portfolios of professionals who are all qualified on paper. Each one is one in a million. In person, a candidate becomes a live individual with talents, personality, humor, skills, and something to contribute. Displaying the ability to carry on a conversation shows the capacity to connect with coworkers, clients and vendors. Furthermore, studies have shown that 60-85% of all positions filled are done so through personal contacts.
  • It accelerates relationship development. While it's possible to form and foster alliances through social media and email, face-to-face interaction can speed up the process and allows professionals to form bonds that could take years to do through virtual means. It gives both parties an opportunity to experience personality nuances, gestures and real-time responses in a back and forth conversation -- all of which are more challenging when interacting virtually.
  • It can be a ticket into the inside track. Like it or not, office politics continues to play a big part in getting hired and promoted. It's not what you know but who you know. Most employers seek to fill positions from within their inner circle or through referrals before posting openings online. Likewise, two equally qualified candidates can be vying for the same promotion, but the one who has a personal connection with the boss is more likely to be promoted.

 

Wall Street veteran Lindsay Broder (on twitter: @keycoaching) is a certified professional coach and president of Key Coaching LLC, a New York firm specializing in career and employment consulting for individuals and companies.