Who you know can be just as important during a job search as what you know. By building your professional network you are creating your own inner-circle of colleagues, mentors and career coaches who can help you develop more career prospects.
How to Network Successfully:
- Develop an Online Presence. While a potential employer should not be able to view your vacation pictures on Facebook, they should be able to find you on social media sites that cater to business professionals such as LinkedIn.
- Join Groups. One of the best ways to meet new people is through industry conferences and meetup groups that share a common interest. Industry events and meetups are the perfect opportunity to practice your networking skills and meet professionals with interests similar to your own.
- Know Your Pitch. Rehearse an elevator pitch about who you are, what you do and how you are of value as a contact. This does not need to be memorized, but practicing can help you smooth out the bumps and ease nerves when meeting new people.
- Prepare. Before going to an event, researching can save you from embarrassing moments. Find out what the event entails, including dress code and who is attending. Always bring business cards or cards that contain contact information.
- Listen more than you speak. People like to feel they are being heard while sharing their accomplishments. Use this to your advantage. Being an active listener can put people at ease and allow you to gather potentially useful information.
- Keep notes. Remember birthdays, spouses’ names, hobbies etc. It is a great way to connect and solidify relationships.
- Follow-up. Having a quick phone call or sending a quick e-mail within a week since meeting with someone helps to keep the relationship going. Do not ignore people you have already networked with. It is important to stay in touch if there is ever a circumstance in the future where it would be convenient for you to utilize this individual as a contact.
- Be memorable. People like to know their effort or advice is appreciated. Use a handwritten note for formal occasions or if you want to make a good impression. Sending small gifts or cards, if someone in your professional network has recently had an achievement, will allow you to acknowledge their success without coming across as disingenuous.
- Heading directly for the power player in the room
- Monopolizing someone’s time
- Jumping into business before even introducing yourself
- Focusing solely on collecting business cards
- Not introducing people properly
- Only networking when you are searching for a new position