Originally posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:30 AM
Interestingly, you don't hear as much about networking as you did five or ten years ago. I am not sure if that because it is so ingrained in our job search strategy or if it has become somewhat passe. I do think it is important as ever to get out into the community and be seen. Networking should become a way of life - not just to be used when job hunting but to continue it throughout your career.
Here are some great tips to use when networking:
1. Your Job Search Strategic Plan (yes you do need one) should include the attendance of at least one networking event a week. There are numerous events out there. Check your local newspaper for Chamber of Commerce Events, Check out www.meetup.com for a comprehensive list of meetings in your area. Some other ideas are: PTA, Homeowners Associations, Civic Clubs, Networking Groups, Women Business Groups, College Alumni Groups. these are all potential places to hear about job opportunities.
2. Take care to dress for success when you attend a meeting. You will be making an impression on those in attendance and much of our initial impression has to do with initial appearance and non-verbal signals.
3. Observe who is attending the meeting and look for Centers of Influence. These are the people that are at the center of conversations and are more than likely dominating the conversation (in a good way). People are taking notice and listening to what they are saying. Join in the group and make sure you make a connection with those individuals. Exchange business cards and ask them to talk about themselves - do not talk about yourself until the very end of the conversation.
4. At the end of the conversation, if possible, tell the contact that you enjoyed meeting them and that you would be more than happy to refer business to them in the future.
5. When you return home from the meeting, hand write a short personal note to the individual and reiterate your pleasure at meeting them and your interest in referring them business. Do not make this a shallow attempt. Really consider someone to talk to about them and tell the new contact that you gave their name to "so and so". Following the steps outlined above will go far in building your personal network. You must nurture and feed the network, or just like a lovely flower, it will die. Do not break the cardinal rule: Only keeping in touch with your network when you need them: ie: you are looking for a job. This is a rude and unacceptable business practice and will promise to give you a bad rap. Hopefully, networking will be something that you do as a habitual strategy in business. People gravitate to others who are genuine, helpful, and kind. They see right through those who contact them only when they need them.
Hope these tips are helpful.
As always - All the best in your job search,
Owner and operator of HR Pros, LLC, an HR consulting company handling full HR services on a project basis: writing policies, procedures, and handbooks; providing recruitment and talent management expertise; employee relations projects, and training for mostly small to mid-sized employers.