Networking is a skill we all need to master. Whether you are employed and looking to advance your career or trying to get back into the workforce, networking is key to career success. A strategy combining face-to-face and online networking has been cited as the most effective way to find a new job. In this competitive job market, you need to differentiate yourself from your competition to be noticed by hiring managers.
Networking can also help you navigate the “hidden” job market. Many companies are not advertising their open positions externally because they do not want to be flooded with thousands of resumes. Instead, they post the jobs internally and ask for employee referrals, or they conduct their own search for candidates on LinkedIn.
The goal of networking is to build relationships and gain exposure. To set yourself up to succeed, go into the event with the intention of getting to know a few interesting people. If your goal is to come out with a definite job lead, you may come on too strong, and will probably be disappointed with the results.
Here are a few tips to make your networking efforts more productive:
Before the networking event:
- Order a durable printed name badge that includes your name and your primary area of expertise. This will help build a professional first impression.
- Prepare your 30-second “compelling conversation opener” to quickly inform people of the unique value you offer employers. Be memorable and make sure it conveys your passion for your field.
- Practice your handshake. You want a moderately firm grip with web-to-web contact.
- Pre-register for the event and review the list of other attendees, if possible.
- Eat before the event, so that it is easier to hold conversations.
- Bring plenty of business cards with you, and keep them easily accessible.
At the networking event:
- Arrive early so that you can introduce yourself to the host.
- Remember to put on your nametag – the right side is the “right side”, to make your nametag most visible when greeting someone with a handshake.
- If you get a drink, keep it in your left hand so that your right hand is free for a handshake.
- Etiquette is important. When exchanging business cards, be sure to read your connection’s business card before putting it into your pocket.
- Be attentive to the person with whom you are speaking. Do not be scanning the room for your next connection. Smile, be friendly and show an interest in the conversation.
After the event:
- Analyze the experience and the effectiveness of how you introduced yourself. If people did not seem intrigued by your “story”, then you may need to work in your pitch.
- Follow up is important. Send your new acquaintances an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, or send an email to schedule a coffee date.
- If you did not enjoy the event, make note of the reason. Was it a low turnout, or was the venue not conducive to mingling? Either way, chalk it up to experience and give yourself credit for getting out there.
Looking for a list of jobseeker networking events in CT? Sign up for the weekly Networking Event Calendar register here
Need more information to help you get over your fear of networking? I suggest Carol Mon’s new book “A Guide to Networking for Introverts, from Icebreaking to Deal Making”. Available on Amazon, the easy read book provides practical “how-to” examples and ideas to improve your networking efforts.Trish Thomas founded The Resume Resource in 2009 to help people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers. As a Career Coach and Resume Writer, she helps her clients articulate their unique value to stand out from the competition, and guides them through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. Contact us to see how we can help you build a more rewarding career. www.the-resume-resource.com