Thomas A. Edison said it well: “Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
I have to go to a networking event tomorrow night. The truth is, up and until the event, I dread the thought of going. But once I get there, meet some really interesting people and feel like I’ve moved my career forward in even some small way, I always leave the event feeling great. If you are like me, this is pretty typical. Networking is such an important part of our professional lives, and the fact is, we really can’t afford to not do it. So, the question then, is, how do we do it most effectively? Recently people have asked me about the value of networking in their job search, and have asked me for a few thoughts on what makes for successful networking practices. Here are a few rules that I try to live by:
Be curious, Be Interested: Have you ever walked up to someone at an event, clearly putting yourself out there, introduced yourself, and then heard the sound of crickets? Terrible feeling. Well, at least you made the first move toward a potential contact and indicated interest. The problem is, there was no dialog launch point. In networking effectively a simple rule to live by is that you need to express a clear interest in the person you are trying to network with. When you express an interest in someone by asking a question, chances are they will respond positively and the door to conversation opens. Everyone wants to talk about themselves- it’s one thing they know a lot about. Next time you network, try this trick, and you might not hear the crickets ever again.
Be Motivated: Getting to an event is half the challenge of effective networking. Put a calendar together listing a few events that you have a level of interest in attending. Place a priority on them like you would on any other business appointment. You might not attend all the events on your calendar, but even if you attend just one more than you did last month, you will have made some progress. Still not motivated? These following truths might make you place a few upcoming networking events on your iPhone calendar:
- Widening your range of contacts opens you to more opportunities personally and professionally. Opportunities equal dollars, so networking can actually put money in your pocket.
- If you are looking for a job, you’ll need about 80-100 pairs of eyes to help you find your next opportunity. Networking is a good place to start finding eyeballs.
- When you have more contacts, you have more resources to help you solve problems that may arise and make you look like a rock star in the workplace.
- More contacts means having access to more information- information that you usually can’t find on the web, or through published materials.
Be Confident: Be fearless in trying new approaches to your networking strategy if things are not working for you. Remember the old saying: If you do what you have always done then you’ll get what you have always got…
Let me know if these tips pay off for you.
First posted on Capitol Communicator