Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Surviving networking

Yesterday (troll down), I talked about how some people don't have great connections--which raised the dreaded subject of networking. Networking, networking--it's all you hear if you are unemployed. There are networking groups that cost hundreds to join, all kinds of networking advice--how often to bug people, is it bugging, how to get people to recommend you to someone else, and so on.

Matthew Tarpey talks about this on CareerBuilder.

He says you need to start someplace--so this brings us to your first networking event.

Eeek.

When I was starting as a freelancer, we used to go to free chamber of commerce "mixers" to meet possible clients. Even that was threatening and chamber people are nice nice nice.

Tarpey advises:

Know why you are going to the event. You don't want to wander around aimlessly. Set a reasonably obtainable goal. This would NOT be to get a new job. It could be to introduce yourself to five people.

Dress the part. This amounts to making a bunch of first impressions. Probably business casual is best.
It depends on the event.

Introduce yourself. Have a short pitch about yourself--the so-called elevator pitch (the time it takes to go up a few floors). It need not be all business--you are also demonstrating personality.

Listen. You will make a good impression if you are a good listener.

Be sincere. Ask the person some followups if they say things about themselves. (I have even asked people right out--"Do you like your job?")

And...follow up. If you don't tag back up in email or with a quick call, you've wasted your time. Maybe you could send a clip..."I remember you said you liked model trains--look at this guy's layout, do you know him?"

It isn't that hard--it can even be fun.

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