Networking is a fantastic way to not only meet new people but also learn more about new jobs and industries. These connections are extremely helpful as you look for a new job. Roughly 80 percent of your job search time should be spent networking, since 65 – 85% of jobs are found this way, according to Harvard Business School.
Where can you network? Join clubs in your community that interest you, since the people in those clubs will have a shared interest. Seek volunteer opportunities. You can network at your place of worship. Also, LinkedIn has groups for career industries, hobbies, sports and other interests.
Top Secret Networking Tricks:
- Firm handshake. A good, firm handshake with eye contact is your first chance to show confidence and make an impression. Crushing the person’s hand will leave an impression, but not a favorable one.
- Listen. If networking was a mixed drink, it would be two parts “listening” and one part “speaking”. This is only listed 2nd in the list because you have to shake hands first. But trust me – it’s probably the most important thing you’ll do while networking.
- Create a pitch. What is your story? For example, you’re from California, served in the Army for six years, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and now you’re interested in an IT job. Will you be speaking with veterans? If not, tweak your delivery to use terms that a civilian would understand.
- Relax. Letting your personality shine through helps you become approachable and connect with others.
- Common Interests. Finding interests that you both share will make it easier to be passionate and keep the conversation going.
- Remember their name. There is nothing more embarrassing than finishing a conversation with a person and then thinking – “what was his/her name again?” Let’s be honest; it’s happened to us all. To help you remember, say the name periodically throughout the conversation. This also shows the person that you are engaged in the conversation.
- Business cards. Bring at least 10 cards with your personal email and phone number. Did you forget their name? Did you read #6? Oops. Good thing you have their card! When you receive one, make a note on the back to remind you of a few key points from the conversation.
- Don’t Lie. People will see through a fake conversation. In the age of Google, don’t stretch the truth to impress someone. You’re part of the 1% of our country that defends the remaining 99%. Trust me – you’re impressive!
- Follow up! Within a day, send an email to anyone you met. Highlight a couple of key points from the conversation. If they respond, add them to your list of contacts. Periodically keep in touch with your contacts, especially when you don’t need their assistance. Contacting twice a month may be too frequent, but once every six months may be too infrequent. You’ll find a balance that works for you. Consider a handwritten note. Probably too formal for someone you met at an event. But, the note is definitely appropriate as a follow-up to a school or job interview.
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