Trial and error is just one method to succeed at something new. Many of my coaching clients and friends really do know that networking is a great way to find a job, but so few know hot to effectively network to get measurable feeling of any definition of success. I have tried many different techniques over the years and witnessed networkers that get it (and those that don’t). Here are 5 things that separate the great from the not-so-great networkers:
- Clearly Defined Purpose – Many job seekers think the purpose of networking is to seek help from others to get a job. This was a natural and logical reason that I began networking in 2001 after my Corporate Workforce Reduction program. My purpose was to find a job. What I didn’t realize at the time is that my purpose was selfish and finding a job is a side effect of networking. It is important to have a clearly defined purpose, but it shouldn’t include anymore than 10% of your needs in it.
- Singular Focus – When I changed my purpose to an approach of understanding and contribution rather than finding a job, my whole focus changed. Now that I figured out how I should treat others as the center of the conversation, I needed to focus on something important. What that means is, focus on a contribution that is important to the audience. This is a truly singular focus and might require the next key skill to perfect effective networking.
- Investigative Journalist – Many job seekers tend to get into networking scenarios, plop down a resume and spout off how great their skills are to their audience. Your audience already has issues, they don’t need yours too! Keeping the first 2 skills in your mind, the 3rd skill is to be really good at asking questions about things of importance to your audience. Simple questions are okay if you’re on the spot or don’t have preparation time, but most of us have access to corporate resources like web pages, or LinkedIN, or Facebook, or a referral source, should be leveraged to come up with more insightful questions. Extra credit if the conversation is connected to your own areas of interest.
- Give Aways – It’s fairly common in networking situations that during your question and answer you might have a solution for a very complex problem. Be cautious not to offer too many solutions too soon in a conversation, but dove tail by asking for permission to provide a solution to the problem and dig deeper. In the end, be sure that the contribution you are making to the other person is of high value, and if it’s a person you provide full contact information.
- Be Honorable – This is a philosophy that has generated more referrals than I can count. By honorable I mean, honor the other persons time and not going over the agreed upon schedule. I also mean, honor the other person by being prepared, by having a structure without any hidden agendas, by thanking them for their generosity, and by following up on any names that they provide without them going stale. Honor the audience by taking notes and by being genuinely interested in what they are saying.
For many years, I have encouraged and guided and made modifications to my networking philosophy. Your contribution to the content is part of my learning, and yours, so please join our list and comment below. Happy Networking!