Everyone tells you to network your way into job opportunities. What exactly does that mean? How can you turn what used to be casual socializing into an effective job search activity? Here are some ideas to help you put power into your next networking opportunity.
- See every circumstance as a chance for networking. Your next casual conversation at Starbucks or in the grocery store could turn into the best job lead ever. Everywhere you go, visit with people. Be curious about them and be prepared to tell them you are on the job hunt. A simple statement is best: “I’m a human resource professional looking for a new position.”
- Set an intention. Before you attend the next professional association meeting, decide what you want to achieve. Write it down so that you are clear: “I want to meet someone who can provide an introduction into XZY Consulting.” This will help you sharpen your focus and direct the networking conversation to serve your needs.
- Create a personal connection. People are much more receptive once they have a personal connection with you. It can be anything you have in common: you live in the same suburb, you both grew up in small towns, your children play soccer, or your spouses both work for the same company. When you first meet, keep the conversation light. Share a little about yourself. This encourages the other person to open up, too. For example: “I moved here five years ago to make a fresh start. I love this town.”
- Arm yourself with a few great questions. It’s smart to read the local business news and be ready to talk business. A great way to start a conversation is to make a statement about something newsworthy, and then ask a question. For example: “I read that housing starts are up 3% in the last month. Have you noticed an uptick in your business?” Or: “I have been reading about the new Energy Star standards. How is your company responding to these challenges?”
- Be ready to give before you get. Remember that you have many contacts and information that can be helpful to others. Always be ready to introduce people you have just met to others who can help them. Be quick to offer your business card and to make promises to send internet links, articles, and other information you have talked about.
- Ask for introductions. Remember, people hire people. Your goal is to be noticed by a hiring manager. It is extremely effective to apply through formal channels (such as internet applications), while you seek to network into the company through personal contacts. Ask your new networking contacts to help you meet the right people: “Do you know who the hiring manager is for the new marketing communications position at your company? Would you be willing to introduce me?” Always ask for a face-to-face introduction. Your second choice would be by phone; third choice is by e-mail. The more personal the contact, the better.
- Follow up. When you really feel a connection, contact your new business friend within three days. Ask him or her for coffee or lunch.
To learn more about how to find a job you love, buy New Resume New Career, available in bookstores and through Amazon.com. You can learn more about Catherine Jewell, The Career Passion® Coach, at www.CareerPassionCoach.com.