Networking can work for or against you, depending upon how you manage the process. Too little or a timid approach will yield little help. Overuse or pushy networking will reduce the number of people willing to help. Either way, you lose potential opportunities to connect. Here are 8 guidelines to help you connect with the right people in the right way:
- Develop your list – The people who know you best will be your greatest supporters and understand your abilities. Make a list of at least 100, going back in time, with everyone you know, have worked with, grew up with, went to school or socialized as neighbors.
- Prioritize by category and potential – Create categories within the list (family, friends, work associates, neighbors, school, and so on. Select each individual within each category and prioritize them by potential (high, moderate and low) of those who can assist your efforts the most, either by contact within industries, by level or connections.
- Develop your approach – Identify the best approach for each individual: Email, letter, telephone, or through someone else. Your objective is to find the most effective way to connect with each individual based on your relationship.
- Seek informational meetings – The easiest way to connect is to say, “I’m in the process of testing the marketplace and I’d like to talk about your industry and which of the various companies are growing”. Always do your research so you are knowledgeable about the industry and companies.
- Anticipate warm engagement or rejection – Some of your contacts will embrace you and your search while others will not respond energetically. Expect both responses, but don’t let rejection affect your journey. Sometimes the people who you don’t hear from immediately will pop up later with information about an open position.
- Prepare your “pitch” – Stay true to your request for information about their industry or company. Don’t ask them directly for a job. They will ask you why you are testing the marketplace. Have your rationale ready, what you’re looking for and why.
- Ask for referrals – Toward the end of your discussion, ask who might be a good connection for you to approach. Hopefully there will be 3 or 4 names mentioned. See if it’s OK to use your contact’s name or if they would mind making a phone call to them, or send your resume on to them with a quick note.
- Keep them in the loop – When you make connections with referrals, keep your original contact in the loop with feedback as to your success or not. In this way if there is a follow-up necessary, your contact might be receptive to become more involved.
If you’re not making at least 5 contacts a day your networking results will come up short.
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