It’s no surprise that when you read articles like Nine Tips for Networking for Business Success they apply nicely to the job search—as in nine tips for networking for job search success. This is because the job search is like running a business…namely yours. That’s right, you have a marketing campaign which heavily relies on your ability to network your way to the perspective buyer, the employer.
So when one of my LinkedIn contacts shared with me the aforementioned article by Kaarina Dillabough, I thought, this sounds similar to networking for job search success. And when Kaarina Dillabough asks in her article for suggestions for other networking tips, I thought, instead I will offer some networking tips for the job search.
- You don’t have to like it, but you have to do it. Networking is not everyone’s favorite idea of spending an evening. To some it causes anxiety and utter fear—not just for the introverts, mind you. So get over the idea that you have to like it and remember the times your mother told you sometimes you have do things you don’t like.
- Call it what it is, Connecting. Related to tip # 1, the word “connecting” seems gentler and more accurate. When you connect with someone, it’s more than a physical face-to-face encounter. With a connection there’s warmth and sense of accomplishment.
- Make it natural for your sake and the sake of others. I hate to say this, but that 15, 30, 60 second commercial is not what people want to hear in most instances. At a natural connecting encounter (on the side of a soccer field, for example) the person with whom you’re speaking will be abhorred if you go into your memorized personal commercial. Relax and let the conversation unwind slowly and naturally.
- Don’t forget about the little guy. All too often I hear people say they want to get to the important people at a company or organization, use their big contacts. Here’s the thing: those people may have promised the world to you, but that was yesterday and today they’re busy. It’s the little guys who really want to help.
- Remember your manners. Sounds like common sense, but you wouldn’t believe how the words, “thank you,” or “you’re welcome” are absent from people’s vocabulary. At an event a woman once said to me, “It was nice meeting you, here’s my card.” Much better would have been, “Bob, it was great talking with you. Thank you for taking the time to listen and explain what you do.”
- Listen. As in listen before you speak. Active listening is a key component to connecting with others. I don’t simply mean pretend to listen; I mean listen with interest and remember what your fellow connections say. People appreciate it when you listen to them and show interest in what they say. This is the first step to proper connecting.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. When you’re granted an informational meeting, remind the person with whom you’re speaking that your 15 minutes are up and thank him for the time he gave you. Chances are he’ll want to continue the discussion. This is a good sign.
- Set your goals and meet them. You’ll feel great when you’ve spoken with the three people you set out to meet. This is especially true when attending an uncomfortable networking event. Make those three encounters meaningful; don’t talk with someone for five minutes and call it a conversation. As well, if your goal is to work the room and speak with 15 people, be sure they’re quality connections—otherwise move on quickly.
- Follow-up. This is the golden rule of connecting. Don’t let a possible contact die in the water by not making a follow-up call or e-mail. This also applies to LinkedIn. When you invite someone to connect, send her a thank you Inmail and tell her you hope to have future correspondences. Stick to your word and contact her many more times, which may/should include a phone call or face-to-face meeting.
Kaarina Dillabough’s article is a great reminder of business networking practices. As her nine tips apply to job search connecting, I hope my self-evident tips apply to business connecting. Is there really a difference between the two? Take the time to read her article; it’s quite good.