Follow these quick tips to help you on your way and take the fear out of what can be a very pleasant and worthwhile experience!!
With end of year and Christmas functions here, it is timely to remind ourselves of some tips and tricks to make the most of our networking efforts!!!
Networking, as we know, is critical for career and job search success. To do this, though, we need to get from behind our technology and engage in traditional interaction with those people who can provide us with those little bits of gold … information that we’ll only get by research … And networking is part of our research!
It takes more than juggling a plate and a drink in one hand while delivering a pitch to gain the most from our networking efforts. We need to ensure we gain what we need to from each interaction, whether it be a one-on-one meeting or group event. The key is to have a plan!!
Follow these ten steps to ensure you maximize your group networking opportunities!
1. Become a Sleuth
Before you attend any events, try to find out who else has registered to be there. Do a bit of online research (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google) to learn more about them and find common interests.
2. Identify what you want to get from the interaction – have an objective ….
Do you want to know about what they do? Whether their employer is good to work for? What type of work is available in their organisation? Do they have any specific requirements of their employees? What specifically do they look for in new hires?
3. Do not ask for a job
Remember, Networking is a reciprocal arrangement – and is a research tool – not an opportunity to “beg for a job”!! You’ll put people off by asking for a job – they’ll be embarrassed as they don’t have one – and will feel put upon. You’ll then not have an opportunity for further interaction. Remember, the main objective is to get the information you need to decide about your future. It may lead to a job (hopefully!!) – but it will certainly provide you with information and further expand your network!!
4. Have your “pitch” and “value proposition” ready
When you know your audience and your objective, you’ll know what you want to say. You may have a “pitch” and a “value proposition” but you’ll need to tailor it for the situation. You don’t want to sound overly rehearsed, so write it in bullet points and practice, practice, practice …… The bullet points are the main concepts you want to get out …. In a conversational style.
Ideally, it should be no more than 30 – 45 seconds and leave your audience / meeting colleagues with some questions – this way the conversation will flow after your pitch is over!
5. Create a list of various conversation starters
If you are not comfortable in meeting new people, have a series of conversation starters in your head. If all else fails, ask “what do you do?” – people love to tell you what they’re up to – and the conversation will flow from there ……
6. Be a Good Listener
We have generally been granted the gift of two ears and one mouth – use them in this proportion and you will learn more and develop stronger business relationships. You will be able to truly engage with others in the conversation as you will be listening for meaning and responding directly – rather than thinking about what you’ll say next ….
7. Have confidence
An air of confidence never goes astray!! Think of a networking event as an opportunity to meet new people and gain additional knowledge: nothing more. People remember confidence and smiles ….. Use both to your advantage!
8. Request a meeting
Group networking meetings are great for introductions and to “start the conversation”. It’s also a great way to set up individual meetings to have deeper discussions. Once you’ve identified that there may be some connection or mutual benefit, request a coffee chat and have a further conversation. Again, you’ll need to be clear that this is not asking for a job, merely an opportunity to research what you might want to do next!!
9. Ask for the best method to connect
Suggest you connect via LinkedIn – and ask if this is the best way to connect. Exchange business cards and include their details in your Contacts. Send a meeting invitation via email – including your mobile number – then you know they have it, and that your meeting has hit their diary!!
Follow-up is critical for each interaction. An email including something of value for them – as well as an expression of your gratitude for their time – is key to building relationships and networks. Include an article or piece of information that they may find useful following your meeting is a sure way of ensuring the relationship continues to be built.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on the way to success in your networking endeavours. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – and signup to our regular blog at www.peopleedge.com.au/blog