4 Basic Rules of Networking
The Rules of Networking
1. Know why you are contacting a person (Ask Questions)
- If your contact is a potential employer, you should learn about his or her company, and find out if there are any openings there that you could apply for.
- With friends and acquaintances, it’s a good idea to prepare a networking profile ahead of time that will help you communicate your skills and goals.
- With contacts who work in your industry, you might ask about how to be a competitive applicant and what companies you should look into.
- If the person is in a position similar to the one you would like, you might ask for personal coaching or tips on how to advance your résumé.
- If he or she works for a company you are interested in, you may ask about the employer’s needs and challenges, how to best apply to open positions, and how to adapt to the company culture.
- With everyone you contact, it’s always a good idea to ask if they know of any job openings you might be interested in.
2. Make a powerful impression (Give and Take)
As you contact the individuals on your networking list, it is essential to think through what you are going to say beforehand. What do you want them to come away from the conversation knowing about you? The best way to achieve your goal is to cater your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement and power statements to match your objectives with this networking contact. As you communicate your skills and goals clearly, your contacts will be better able to connect you with key referrals.
3. Keep a precise list of follow-up activities
- Who you contacted
- How you know them/who referred you
- When your call or interaction took place
- What you discussed
- What actions you need to take
- When you will complete those actions
4. Follow through
When you’re networking or on a job search, the one thing that separates the good from the great is a follow through. Send personalized “Nice to meet you” cards to every person you meet at a networking event, or with whom you had any kind of conversation. Next, create an Excel spreadsheet charting all of your professional contacts, their title, and company, where and when you met, and what you discussed. Update this spreadsheet after every future interaction or new contact. The objective of networking is to grow long-term, stable relationships, and follow through is the first and most vital step.
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