Tips and Tricks for Successful Networking
Networking has two purposes: (1) to get you your next job, and if thatâ€™s not right now, (2) to prepare for when you need to. Networking is the most effective way to secure a job nowadays. Gerry Crispin of CareerXroadsâ€”human resources consultant to the largest companies in Americaâ€”says that if you network your way into a company to the point that someone internal there delivers your rÃ©sumÃ© to the hiring manager, that delivery increases your chances 14-fold.
Networking is an art because it requires imagination. At the same time, itâ€™s a science because it requires practical and systematic activity and good administrative and follow-up skills. In this article, networking refers to in-person interactionâ€”not social networking, which is a chapter by itself and complementary to in-person networking.
Networking is an indisputably critical part in the job hunt, and itâ€™s easy to make mistakes. As we all know, the first impression is a lasting impression. When meeting a person for the first time, introduce yourself by name, shake hands, and be looking into the other personâ€™s eyes. Your elevator pitch is critical too: make it short, memorable, and intriguing. Let the other person ask follow-up questionsâ€”to a level of interest. Most people deliver a too-lengthy and way-too-detailed soliloquy about their professional past. How much appetite do you think the other person has for that? Itâ€™s better to talk about your future destination and not where youâ€™ve been in the past. The listener may be inclined to help you but canâ€™t do much about your past.
Networking is clearly about developing a professional relationship. The other person, too, knows one hand washes the other, so if he provides you with introductions and leads today, you could be doing the same for him in the future. Make sure, though, that during the dialogue you donâ€™t make the other person uncomfortable. Never put the other person in an awkward situation by complaining or creating a situation in which youâ€™re seeking pity. Be positive, show energy, and, mostly, have a smile on your face. A smile means the same thing universally: it says without words that you enjoy the other personâ€™s company, and itâ€™s very inviting.
Itâ€™s a best practice to listen more than to talk. Once you feel the relationship seems positive, ask for the personâ€™s business card. Itâ€™s likely that the person will ask for yours in turn. Once you have the personâ€™s contact information, follow up later that day or the next with a short e-mail. If both of you feel mutually beneficial, this paves the way for further communication and mutual assistance. It would be a mistake to think the other person could offer what youâ€™re looking forâ€”namely, a job. But you never know whom that person knows or what leads and possible referrals you could get, and thatâ€™s ultimately what youâ€™re after, of course.
Practice networking. It may not feel natural initially, but like other skills, the more you do it, the better you get at it. In fact, after a while, you may even actually enjoy simply getting to know new people.
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