Networking. Everyone does it but how do you do it well?
Many people believe that networking during a job search means calling everyone and asking them for a job. People associate networking with being pushy and overbearing. Some people tend to hide away from networking because they don’t want to be labeled as this type of person. Networking is a two way street, it is a way of getting to know someone better and finding ways they might be able to help you and how you can help them in return.
A professional networking event is a great opportunity to present yourself, make new connections and even find yourself a new job. Current research shows that a large number of jobs are filled through networking. Successful networkers display a sincere interest in their networking contacts and work hard to develop a relationship, establish their credibility and share their information and knowledge. To become a successful networker, you should follow the belief that everyone has something to learn and gain.
Networking is an ongoing process, it requires persistence, attention, organisation and good will. Incorporate the art of networking into your job search and you will gain opportunities and build relationships that will last a lifetime. Demonstrate your value to potential clients and employers with these simple successful networking tips:
1. Meet People Through Other People
The best and easiest way to meet people is through referrals. Stick around with the people you already know and who know the people you are looking to meet. Being introduced through them or joining in with their conversations you will very likely receive a warm welcome and introduction to the person you wanted an introduction to. This is a similar effect to LinkedIn through their online introduction tool, or even through joining the right circle at an event with somebody you know.
2. Leverage Social Media
Social media is an effective way to get to know important contacts better and without the pressure of a face to face meeting that you may not be prepared for. Seek out like-minded or key contacts you would like to know better within your LinkedIn profile, Google Plus, Twitter and more. Try commenting on a link they post or responding to a comment they make, start a conversation with them and offer them value in return. When you have the opportunity to meet them in person it will be easier to reference previous communications with them.
3. Don’t Ask For A Job
Networking is not asking everyone you know for a job, in fact, when you network you should never ask someone for a job. You should ask people for information that will assist you in your job search. Your main networking goal should be to build a relationship and establish rapport so when a potential opportunity may arise in the future, your contact may be willing to refer you.
4. Use Your Resume as a Tool for Advice
Another easy yet highly effective way to network during a job search is to ask others who you have established a relationship with to review your resume and give you feedback on how to improve it. Using this technique is valuable for a number of reasons. When reviewing your resume they will discover your work history, your previous titles, your objectives and many things they may not yet know about you. They may remember a company or a connection that your background may be perfectly suited to.
5. Don’t Take Up Too Much Time
Before you start networking, be sure to have an agenda and keep the meeting on track. Time is money and people are never happy with someone that takes up too much of their time. By planning out your meeting ahead of time, you establish your professionalism, you gain credibility and cover all the critical topics you wanted to cover. .
6. Let The Other Person Speak
When networking, be sure that you don’t do all the talking. The key to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. If you have asked another person for advice or their opinion, make sure they have the opportunity to offer it and tell you. Or perhaps they are looking for you to add value to their work. If you do all the talking, the person may feel you are uninterested in what they have to say and unsure what action to take with the information you have supplied. Ask some of the following questions:
- How long have you been with this company? Or how long have you been in this field?
- What do you like or dislike about your job?
- What type of training did you need for this position?
- What is the culture of this company?
7. Present A Success Story
Once you have found a topic the other person may be interested in and you can offer advice on, present a solution by telling a story about how you helped other in a similar situation. Tell them about your problem and how you solved it, but keep it short and sweet. Start by telling them about the problem and then your solution. Include lots of information on how disastrous things were before it came to a happy ending, where everything worked out for the better.
8. Ask For Suggestions on How to Expand Your Network
One of the main goals of networking is not only to meet one or two people, but also to tap into the network of the people you are meeting with. Each separate person you meet will know approximately another 200 people, and if you can gain introductions to some of these contacts, you will quickly increase your network and your chances of finding an extremely valuable connection. Ask your contacts if they can recommend a professional organisation or the names of some of the people you should be talking with.
9. Find a Reason to Follow Up
If you want to establish rapport with another person, create a reason to keep the relationship going. If you read an article that adds to a discussion you had during a networking meeting, save it and send it to them with a brief note on what you found interesting and how you think it could benefit them. Try and find at least two or three opportunities yearly to reconnect with the members of your network.
10. Always Remember to Say Thank You
Building a network is about creating a genuine, caring relationship. Thank your connection for the information they have given and see if you can help them in any way. Share any knowledge you feel would be useful for them. Keep notes on what you learn about your contacts so your future correspondence can have a personalised touch.
11. Online Presence
Ensure your online profile is always up-to-date. Recruiters often use social media platforms to probe potential candidates, and even to check out your skills and experience.
These few basic rules will help you succeed at networking. Remember, the goal at networking is to build relationships and networks. A good, reliable network can result in new customers, partners and opportunities. Get out there and meet people, but ensure you are following these networking tips to make sure you are meeting people in the right way.
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