The 21st century has put a new twist on the age-old networking question: Should you do research before attending an event or meeting a person? With the internet at our fingertips, we have the ability to learn almost anything about a person before even shaking their hand.
Some experts will advise you to learn everything possible before meeting someone. They tell you to find them on Linked In, google their name, and search for their bio on the company website. I understand that this can make an unknown situation feel more comfortable. But my question is, how can you truly be curious if you already know everything about them?
The good news is that there is middle ground. I absolutely advise researching a company and the people before an interview or event. After all, there is nothing worse than being in the dark. But obsessively googling people and getting clogged with information about them before you’ve even established a genuine connection can block all the natural pathways to creating a bond.
Browse their LinkedIn page to see where they went to school or where they work. Check out their Twitter or Facebook to learn about their interests. Then stop. You now have a solid foundation of information that can spark conversations and forge connections in person. When prepping for a meeting or an event, do your due diligence but don’t get sucked completely into the maw of the internet. Be curious, but don’t be a stalker.
Michelle Tillis Lederman is the author of The 11 Laws of Likability and founder of Executive Essentials, a training company that provides communications, leadership, and team-building programs, as well as executive coaching services. Also an Adjunct Professor at NYU, Michelle believes real relationships lead to real results and specializes in teaching people how to communicate to connect. She has appeared on CBS, Gayle King, NPR, and Martha Stewart Living and her work has been featured on New York Times, Working Mother, MSNBC, Monster.com, USA Today, AOL, Forbes, CNBC, and About.com.
Connect with Michelle on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MichelleTillisLederman) or on Twitter (@MTLederman).