So many people tell me that they hate networking. Hate it. The schmoozing, the chit chat, the slimy-you-got-something-I-need feeling. And I get that. But simply put: most great jobs come out of a referral or connection that you have in your network and well, you just gotta’ do it. Here are some tips that might help.
- Do some recon: Gather information before an event. See if you can find out who’s on the invite list. If you can spend 30 minutes checking people out on LinkedIn, you can be more targeted in your networking AND you’ll know a little bit about them so you will have something to talk about once you introduce yourself.
- Quality over Quantity: people will remember a good conversation more than anything. So avoid hitting up everyone you can and try to have a more substantive conversation with a few select people.
- Be Honest About your Ask: Be straightforward and share what you need without demanding it. You can say upfront: “I was hoping to meet with you to learn more about your organization” or “please keep me in mind if you hear of anything in this field…” – this also sets you up to contact with them later and to follow up.
- Follow Up: This is key. If you can follow up with a meaningful email – not just a “great meeting you” email but one that adds a link to an article that you thought of after speaking with a person or shares information they would be interested in (including information that showcases you!), they will remember you later. The best way to follow up is to think about ways to give something back to the person you are networking with. If you can connect them to someone or something that interests them, that makes the asking a little easier and shows that you are genuinely interested in them as a person as well.
- Connect with People to Whom you Actually Feel Connected: This one is one you don’t hear all the time. But I truly think that the connections that work out best are ones that are genuine. If you are really connecting with someone, invest in that. They may not be in your field or be able to help you directly but meaningful connections have a way of working out in the end. And even if they don’t work out into getting you a job, you’ve made a new colleague or friend and you can support each other. That’s worth it’s weight in gold when you are job searching.