Do you only build your network when you’re in need of a job? Do you think “networking,” is pretentious and phony, like everyone is just there to take, take, take? If so, you’re doing it wrong!
Networking is more than doling out your resume and business cards. It has nothing to do with the font on your resume sample or the people in your contact list. It has everything to do with treating everyone you meet as you would like to be treated yourself.
Please Don’t Network Like This:
- Not Following Up
Busy meeting new people? Great! Have you followed up with the connection you met last week? No? Consider yourself forgotten. You’ve already given that person a bad impression.
You don’t have to email or text everyone you meet, just those you really connect with. You know, the people you found genuinely interesting and are likely to feel the same about you. You don’t have to update them about your whole life story, just share an interesting article, invite them to a similar event, or offer assistance in a subject you’re good at.
- Networking in the Wrong Places
If you’re in the tech industry, you can’t expect to find interesting contacts in a conference for hoteliers. It’s so obvious, yet tons of applicants attend networking events that don’t match their industry and career goals.
For instance, you won’t get hired if you’re in a support group for the unemployed. Your goal for attending that event should be, well, to get support — not to get hired! For resume writers, the right event to hand out resume samples is in a career conference or a university job placement event, not at a charity event. The key is identifying the right event based on your goals.
- Assuming You Know Everyone
You might know one or two faces in the crowd but that doesn’t mean you already know everyone. Two familiar faces might introduce you to two more people or maybe ten if they’re well connected!
Assuming you know everyone puts you in a bad mindset. To be specific, it puts you in a “been there, done that,” mindset that doesn’t help you meet new and interesting people. It will show in your body language and keep people from approaching you.
- Talking and Talking and Talking Some More
Networking is all about having interesting conversations — NOT monologues. Give the other person a chance to air their point of view, or to tell similar stories. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already experienced or heard of what they’re about to say. This is give and take, not a contest on who can tell the most stories.
Instead, listen for ways to help people or introduce someone you know. When you give others the impression that you’re interested in helping, they are more likely to remember you.
What Should You Do Instead? Watch for the Hidden Cues and Job Opportunities
Sometimes, a person you meet at an event suggests you contact a certain person or check a specific website. Even if they didn’t mention anything about job opportunities, don’t ignore their suggestion.
Going to the site or reaching out to the person they referred won’t take you more than 30 minutes, but the new connection you’ll have gained will be worth its weight in gold. That person may lead you to someone hiring, or a job posting in a website. The person who referred you won’t ask you to do it unless they have good reason to.
Now get out there and be confident! You’re equipped with what you should and shouldn’t do while networking. Look for the opportunities, create strong relationships, network in the right places, and jump in. Still not sure if you’re ready? Reach out to me and schedule a 15 minute appointment for a consultation.