Tips for Successful Networking

There are many articles, blogs and books on networking with long lists of tips and advice on how to build your professional network.  As a recruiter, our best advice is to be prepared to focus on two objectives:

1)   LISTEN ATTENTIVELY.

Networking is a 2-way street.  It is very important to listen to the person you are talking to and understand what you could do to help.  Even if you do not have the skills needed to help solve a problem, you may know someone who could.  People will pay more attention to you when you are actively listening and genuinely trying to be helpful.  Ultimately, you should both mutually benefit.

2)   BE SUCCINCT.

You must know what you want and be able to clearly articulate this.  Write down your objectives prior to networking.  Do your homework and fine-tune the key points you would like to discuss.

Practice your pitch, and make sure it flows naturally.  It will be a lot easier for you to talk about your goals and objectives after rehearsing then over and over.  Below are some important questions you should be able to answer without stopping to think:

Have you clearly defined your career choice?  Are you trying to contact a specific list of target companies?  Do you want help with your resume?  What exactly do you need help with?  Do you have questions about a specific job?

10 Additional Tips for Networking Success

  • Arrive early to a networking event – fewer people generally means conversations will be easier.
  • Have a mental checklist of your accomplishments – be clear, concise.
  • Don’t overpower the conversation with your sales pitch.
  • Smile, be friendly when you meet someone and watch your/their body language.
  • Your goal is to get more contact information than you give out – don’t worry if others don’t take your card.  With their information, you can do the calling.
  • Make a list of contacts you want to make and select networking events wisely.
  • Ask a question to join a conversation at a networking event.
  • Make it a habit to make introductions and connect like-minded people.
  • Initiate a conversation in gatherings where you are comfortable (e.g. even at a baseball game).  Be aware of your surroundings and opportunities.
  • If you don’t follow-up, you fail.  Follow-up with your contacts within 48 hours.

One of my strongest networkers once told me, “Doesn’t everyone always have time for a cup of coffee, I always do.”  A great reminder that it all starts with making the connection!