Are you are someone who says, “I HATE networking”? Why? Maybe you feel intimidated, are too shy, lack confidence, or do not know what to say.
In addition to getting someone you know to introduce you to someone you do not know, networking means you do the same for other people. As you network, keep in mind jobs for which other people are looking. You may be able to help some of them get a new job or career. They may return the favor in the future!
Whether you like to or not, networking is a crucial component in career success. We promise, the more networking you do, the easier it becomes! So get out there and start now! The sooner you start, the sooner you are able to do it with ease. Here we offer tips for taking the “work” out of networking!
Networking is Easy! Just Remember, “Own It”!
Objective: Set your objective. Meet (X) number of people in (X) amount of time (per day/week/month) and swap (X) number of business cards.
When/Where: Schedule informal meetings with them including an agenda (talking points). Prepare a “script” to make speaking via phone more comfortable.
Notify: Notify them of your goals, skills, experience and accomplishments.
Inquire: Ask for advice, information and contacts. Do not ask directly for a job!
Take Away: Obtain at least two more names from them that you can contact.
Make Networking Work for You
Update your resume and have it ready to distribute! If you do not have them already, get business cards. Sign up for deal alerts on VistaPrint.com, wait for Vista Print to offer a free business card deal, and order them!
Be clear about who you are and what you want.
○ If you are wishy-washy when people ask what kind of job you are looking for, it only makes it harder for them to help you.
○ Never respond with, “I’ll do any job!” It not only makes you look desperate, but unsure about your career.
○ If your job preferences vary between industries, that is OK.
○ Determine if there is anything you are willing to compromise. (Perhaps, relocation?)
Make sure your online marketing tools (e.g., Facebook or MySpace) are cleaned up and employer-ready. You do not want a potential employer to see something on your social networking sites that might land you in trouble.
First tell the people closest in your life that you need a job. You gain the confidence to approach others later. Inform parents, siblings, parent’s friends, professors, career services at your college, past colleagues and bosses. Set up a face-to-face meeting to show that you are taking your networking seriously. This also helps them remember to mention you when they encounter a prospective employer.
Work the Networking Events
Get the most out of networking events.
○ Join industry networking functions by checking online with relevant associations.
○ Research who is attending and make a list of the best people for you to meet.
○ Develop and strengthen relationships by following up with your top connections.
○ Arrange your own networking functions!
Look and act appropriately.
○ Practice and know your elevator speech! Use it as your introduction.
○ Be positive, friendly, and enthusiastic! No one wants to talk to (or hire) a bore!
○ Ask questions and listen.
○ Get to know the person and the company.
Remember people’s names.
○ Use their name at least 3 times throughout your conversation.
○ Swap cards and write a note or description on the back to remind you who they are.
○ Later you can forward articles or other information about their industry (or hobbies) to them. This keeps you connected with them.
Getting into a networking group at an event.
○ Stand by and observe their body language until you get an opening.
○ Offer them some refreshments.
Getting out of a networking group at an event.
○ Always act interested, even if you are not.
○ Say, “Thank you! I enjoyed talking with you. Enjoy the rest of the evening.”
○ Swap business cards and say, “Can I call you so we can discuss this further?”
○ Always close with a handshake and smile.
Do not forget about unconventional networking places like community events, prayer groups, PTA meetings, charities, political campaigns, local shopping, etc. You never know where your next lead will come from, so keep resumes in your car and business cards in your pocket or purse.
Tips of the Icebreaker
In your first networking conversation with someone new:
Always begin with, “Hi! I’m ____. How are you?” and shake hands firmly.
Say your elevator speech.
Focus on them, not you.
After you have talked business, ask about casual topics like family and spare time.
Use the lingo and networking tricks you overhear, if they get a positive response!
Try using these statements as icebreakers or to spark further conversation:
“I’d like to know more about [the company/positions available/something else you have researched].”
“What an outstanding [booth/event/turnout]!”
“Isn’t this is a clever [brochure/marketing item]?”
“Where do you work?”
“What kind of work do you do?”
“How did you get into that industry?”
“What do you enjoy most about that industry?”
“How did you go about getting your job?”
“What do you enjoy most about your job?”
“What keeps you motivated?”
“How are you going to continue growing your business?”
“Who is your most challenging competitor and why?”
“What is your greatest challenge?”
“Which industry websites or blogs do you follow?”
“Are you attending other [career fairs, events, etc.] soon? I’m interested in going too.”
“If you weren’t in your current career, what would you be doing?”
“When you are not at work, what do you do for fun?”
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