8 Networking Tips
- The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service
While it would make the introverts, the meek, the shy, and
the novices awfully happy if the newspaper classifieds contained
all job openings, that's simply not the case. In fact, some
of the best jobs aren't listed anywhere except in the mental
catalogues of CEOs and managers.
So how do you apply for jobs that aren't advertised anywhere,
that exist only in the seemingly inaccessible minds of working
America's movers and shakers? You meet people who might
have insight into your job search. You talk to people who
know people who could help you out. You chat it up with
strangers at parties. You cold-call people you've read about
in the newspaper. You write cordial letters to prominent
community leaders. You cultivate an arsenal of contacts.
In short, you network.
Think about networking as a game, as a sport, as a personal
challenge. Below are some strategies for success.
- Brainstorm for Contacts.
Think of everyone who could possibly serve as a contact.
Don't limit yourself to people who could clearly help
you out - friendly, accessible people in unrelated fields
often have contacts they would be happy to share with
you. Also, people who, through either work or volunteer
activities, have contact with a diverse crowd can be extremely
helpful. To get you started with your list, here are some
suggestions: Family friends Local politicians Relatives
Journalists Neighbors Business executives Professors Non-profit
directors Alumni Your physician Former employees Your
hair dresser Former co-workers Prominent community members
Public relations officials Members of professional organizations
- Where the Contacts Are - Tried
and True Places to Network
Local alumni association Conventions Class reunions Club
meetings Cocktail parties Internet list-servs Fundraisers
Volunteer opportunities Business conferences Continuing
- Be Prepared
Networking is a little like planning a political campaign.
While it's essential that you are honest and relaxed,
you should not wing it. Just as politicians think about
what they tactically need to accomplish, convey, and gain
when they make an appearance or give a speech, you should
approach networking opportunities with a game plan. Before
you confidently and charmingly sashay into a business
conference room, a dinner party, or group event, do your
homework. Find out who will be there, or do your best
to list who you think will probably be present. Then decide
who you would most like to meet. When you have your list
of potential contacts, thoroughly research their work
and their backgrounds and then make up some questions
and conversational statements that reflect your research.
And finally, think critically about what your goals are
for your networking function. What information do you
want to walk away with? What do you want to convey to
the people you meet? But, as is always true, it's important
to be flexible and to perceive opportunities you didn't
plan to confront.
- Networking Knows No Boundaries
Business conferences, informational interviews, college
reunions, and cocktail parties are obvious networking
opportunities - you expect to walk away with a few business
cards and some recommendations for potential rolodex entries.
But the reality is that invaluable contacts and enviable
opportunities often surprise us. Good networkers are flexible
people who approach connection-making as a fluid enterprise
that extends far beyond hotel conference room walls. You
never know who will step onto the adjacent elliptical
trainer at the gym; who will be parked behind you in an
interminable grocery store line; who will sit next to
you on an airplane; or who will be under the hair dryer
next to you at the beauty salon. Don't let these opportunities
pass you by. While it may have been sheer luck that you
bumped into an affable CEO, your savvy approach to networking
can turn a banal exchange into a pivotal moment in your
career path. Always be ready to make a contact and exchange
business cards. And remember, don't hesitate to network
someone who has no obvious connection to your ambitions:
Your new contact may be able to give you relevant names
of his or her friends and colleagues.
- Follow Up
After you meet with a contact, it is absolutely essential
to write a thank you note. Tell your contact how much
he or she helped you, and refer to particularly helpful,
specific advice. Everyone - even the most high-level executive
- likes to feel appreciated. In addition to immediate
follow-up after a meeting or conversation, keep in touch
with your contacts. This way, they may think of you if
an opportunity comes up, and they will also be forthcoming
with new advice. It's important to stay on their radar
screens without being imposing or invasive. And, of course,
if you get that new job, be sure to tell them and thank
them again for their help.
- What Goes Around Comes Around
If you want to be treated with respect, treat others with
respect. If you want your phone calls and email missives
returned, call and write back to the people who contact
you. If you want big-wigs to make time for you, make yourself
available to others whom you might be able to help out.
It's that simple
The higher up you climb in the professional world, the
more you'll find that everyone knows everyone else. Thus,
if you're impolite, curt, condescending, or disposed to
burning bridges, you'll cultivate a reputation that will
serve as a constant obstacle. Remember - the people who
seem little now will one day be running companies and
making decisions. If you treated them with kindness and
respect when they were green, they'll remember and return
the favor later.
- Make It Easy For Your Contacts
When you call, meet with, or write to a potential contact,
make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Explain
what you specifically want, and ask detail-oriented questions.
For example, "I'm looking for jobs in arts administration.
Do you know anyone who works at the Arts Council? May
I have their names and phone numbers? May I use your name
when I introduce myself to them?" Another entrée into
a productive conversation is to solicit career tips and
advice from your contact. Most people love to talk about
themselves. By asking for your contact to offer valuable
insight from his or her personal experiences and successes,
he or she will feel important and respected. Who doesn't
like to feel like an expert?
Be sure to avoid making general demands, such as, "Do
you know of any jobs that would be good for me?" This
sort of question is overwhelming and it puts an undue
burden on your contact.
- Stay Organized
Keep a record of your networking. Whether you do this
in a Rolodex, in a notebook, or in a database file on
your computer, it's important to keep track of your contacts.
Make sure your system has plenty of room for contacts'
names, addresses, phone numbers, companies, job titles,
how you met them, and subsequent conversations you've
had with them.
Make a great impression with your own business cards (FREE):
FREE color business cards! An $85 value!