Making Professional Connections through Authenticity

To be perfectly honest, I hardly spend time on LinkedIn. Whenever I’m on LinkedIn, there are two types of posts that I normally see: (1) opportunities for professional skills development and networking, and (2) humble brag. Despite how these posts are supposed to be motivational, they’re pretty tiring to look at. I guess it’s because so far, I’ve had more doors for opportunities open through developing genuine relationships than through LinkedIn.

Genuine relationships don’t have to necessarily be on the level of friendship; rather, they’re more about exposing your most personal characteristics that are not quite apparent from simply reading a resume or CV, learning the other person’s most personal characteristics, and respecting each other regardless of background and worldviews.

These days, it’s becoming exceptionally rare for people to develop genuine relationships with other professionals – and with others in general. Some go through great lengths to develop an amicable persona for first-impressions. Yet, some of them fail in interviews or casual encounters. Even worse than that is when they struggle with creating more connections that’ll help promote them through the ranks.

I’ve been there. I’ve failed to make memorable first-impressions despite putting a lot of preparation into my elevator pitches and whatnot. I remember when I first started attending workshops by professional societies and the career center as a freshman in college. Cover letter looked good, written personal anecdotes looked good, projects looked good… check, check, check. And I’ve submitted all my deliverables to organizations I was interested in interning for. None of them replied back.

You may think that I obviously didn’t get replies back because I was a freshman. But lemme tell ya… That same year, when I developed an interest for physics from my very first physics class, I regularly talked to the professor after lectures and during his office hours. (I was a Computer Science major, by the way.) By the end of the semester, I told the professor that I’d like to try doing something computational-physics related. He got me my first internship. As a freshman. At NASA.

So forget “first-impressions” because it’s really difficult to express who you are as a person in just one conversation. First-impressions are really a hit-or-miss.

Don’t stress too much on your deliverables and LinkedIn without first balancing it with genuine connections.

If you put a lot of time into revealing all dimensions of yourself, as well as taking interest in people rather than just the opportunity, then others will see you more as a person instead of an unknown prospective candidate.