Networking is a life-long journey. Most meaningful jobs are found through one-on-one networking. Your next networking meeting may lead to that dream job. The key to networking is to understand that most professionals enjoy helping and giving back. However, their time is valuable, so use it wisely and never expect anything beyond what they can or want to provide.
To get something out of networking, you must believe in it, be proactive and be willing to give back to those you network with. Remember, what goes around comes around.
The truth about networking is you never know where it will lead you. You may find that great job you have been looking for; someone to steer you into a new career; a long-term coach/mentor to help guide your career development; or even a new life-long friend.
Finding a job may be your primary goal of networking, but it is not the purpose of one-on-one Information and Referral Meetings. The purpose of such meetings is to:
- Validate a career idea or vision
- Gather industry information
- Seek advice and counsel
- Plant seeds
- Obtain referrals
- NOT ask for a job
Things to Remember about Networking:
- Most quality opportunities are gained by a direct referral to the decision maker.
- There are two job markets, the formal and the informal.
- You never request more than 30 minutes for a one-on-one information and referral meeting.
- You must have a spontaneous and succinct two-minute drill (elevator speech) to begin your information meeting.
- Most people like to help and give information.
- You get more receptivity when you ask for advice and not for a job.
- You never know when you are talking to the actual decision maker.
- You never know when an information meeting turns into a job interview.
- You don’t have to like networking to have it work for you.
- You must listen beyond your expectations.
- You must be grateful and thank contacts for their time, information and referrals.
- You must always offer help in return to a contact.
- Everyone has personal (social) contacts (List A).
- Everyone has career (professional) contacts (List B).
- Everyone has target employers (List C).
- Networking is a full-time job.
- Networking is not easy and requires hard work.
- Networking requires focus and detailed record keeping.
- Networking may build life-long relationships.
- 20. When you believe in Networking, you succeed at Networking.
Networking Contact Categories:
(List A) Personal (Social) Contacts is a selection of your family and friends that you believe are in a position to help you validate your personal career ideas or vision. You need to trust their judgment and believe they will challenge your thinking. They are someone you perceive to be in a position to refer you to individuals in their network that you can contact to develop your own network. List A is a great way to start your information and referral network meetings. Since you know these individuals well, you can afford to make some mistakes in your presentation (elevator speech), which will give you the opportunity to fine tune things before you turn your attention to contacts on your List B and C.
(List B) Career (Professional) Contacts is a selection of individuals you have met during your career. It might include former college professors, former bosses or other colleagues, executive coaches or mentors you worked with in the past that know you and are in a position to help you validate your personal career goals, ideas or vision. They should be someone you trust to challenge your thinking and help you focus on your next career move and steer you in the right direction. The intent is to network with individuals you perceive to be in a position to refer you to individuals in their network that you can contact to develop and expand your network.
(List C) Target Employers are names of individuals you recognize in businesses you are targeting, but you don’t know them firsthand. It will also contain organizations you would consider working for because you have a career passion for the industry in which they operate in or their company values and mission match your career needs or objectives. People or organizations you are following on LinkedIn should be on this list. The purpose of this list is to help you to be ready to act on the possibility someone you network with may know an individual on your List C or may know someone in an organization you’ve listed on List C. Essentially, you are searching to find a way to meet a decision maker at that specific organization.
One-on-one networking is not to be considered a once and done job-search activity. Networking is a skill to perfect over a life time. Beyond the opportunity to make new professional acquaintances, you are truly on a path without knowing exactly where it will take you. Therefore, you must believe in the importance of networking and consider it equally important as traditional job-search activities like spending time on job search websites or viewing specific company job postings.
The truth about networking is not to view it as a chance to meet with people to ask for a job, but it is a professional way to obtain advice, information and referrals. For networking to be effective, you must be proactive, hard working and willing to invest considerable amounts of time to create lists of people (professional and personal) to meet in person.
You must create a spontaneous and succinct two-minute drill (elevator speech). Also, it is important to understand that finding a new job becomes your number one priority. To get the most out of networking, you must be willing to listen to each new contact beyond your expectations and be prepared to maintain a detailed journal of all your networking activities.
Finally, after you find that great new job, your networking has not ended. It is quite the opposite: when your networking skills are used in other facets of your life, there is a good likelihood that your networking proficiency will continue to develop along with your personal growth.