Okay, so you went somewhere and talked to lots of people. You followed my advice on the best places to network and you even tried to apply the best kept secret in networking, but you still don’t have that shiny new job or fabulous client, and you’re cursing the very seat I’m sitting on. ‘Thanks for all the lousy advice, Jen’, you say.
Well shoot, man, what’d you expect? Those new contacts don’t know you yet; your work is far from over. In fact, networking is never over. For those of you who hate it, I’m oh so very sorry to have to tell you that.
The point of networking isn’t to ask for opportunities from everyone you meet. It is to build relationships that are mutually beneficial. When it works in your favor, you can usually look back and see how an opportunity came along through your network, and those more fruitful contacts are often some of your closer relationships with other people. People who know what you do, what your goals are, and are inclined to send opportunities your way. So it is important to build the strength of these relationships. Below are a few ways to do that.
- Participate: when you attend an event, sit by a stranger. Want a presenter to remember you? Sit right up front where they can’t miss you.
- Connect: Ask questions of people you meet and show an interest in whatever they say. Tell them something about yourself that they might find interesting. Do you both adore Teacup Chihuahuas? Awesome! Talk about that. You already know that wherever you are is something you have in common, there’s no reason you can’t also have other things in common.
- Share: Aside from your love of microscopic dogs, tell your story. They say that people ask questions that they themselves want to answer. So ask someone their story. ‘So….what brings you here when you could be home with your sweet dumpling of a dog?’ you ask. They’ll tell you their reasons, opening the conversation up for you to tell yours.
- THANK YOU NOTES: I cannot stress this enough. Whatever form you choose, thank you notes are serious business. Even more so if you write it by hand and mail it. Email is okay if you don’t have that kind of contact information, but if you can find it, do.
- Keep in touch: whether your communication with people you meet is mostly online (emails or through LinkedIn), or in person, keeping in touch is important. I’m not talking about finding another chance to sell the other person. I’m talking about keeping in touch with another human being. Finding out how they are, simple as that.
- Ask for introductions: Do you know someone who knows someone? Better than the impersonal LinkedIn introduction, ask that well-connected person to introduce you somehow (trust me on this, its not the only way, but I do believe its the best, most expedient way!) - if your friend is a trusted source, it kinda doesn't matter if the introduction is via email, phone, or in person.
I found this article on networking “POTTY training”. I think it is cute, and had to share it with you. Do you think its cute? Do we also both adore the color green and Siamese cats? Let me know in the comments!