It’s the start of a new year and it brings new beginnings, whether its a new job or even a career change. I have put together six points on how to network effectively. Enjoy!
1. Be realistic and manage your own expectations
Don’t be aggressive. It is not reasonable to expect someone else to give you what you want instantly. Build the relationship and see what happens.
2.. Don’t continue to ask for favours/advice
Don’t exhaust a resource. Many people want to help others, but networking is about relationship building. If someone takes time out to offer you advice or introduce you to someone in their network, thank them. Be grateful. Maybe consider writing them a handwritten card and mailing it to them. Just because someone is helpful once, doesn’t mean they are obligated to continue. Thank them for their time and offer to help them whenever they may need it. They will remember that.
3. If you don’t know someone well and request that they vouch for you and have them introduce you to others in their network, be careful.
Get to know them first. Take them out for lunch or drop them a line and get to know them, give them an idea of who you are professionally. Once they get to know you, people are more comfortable sharing contacts. If they don’t know you very well, they may not be comfortable with the idea of introducing you to someone else. If it turns out badly, it’s partially on them.
4. If you are looking for a new job, make sure you have defined exactly what you are looking for
When you are contacting people in your network to express the fact that you are looking for a new job, make sure you have crafted a short paragraph or 2-3 bullet points on what you are looking for. This is key in helping people help you. If you are vague, you probably won’t get an effective and prompt response from others.
5. If someone just recently started a new job, don’t ask them if their company is hiring.
When someone starts a new job, they are really busy. They want to make a good impression at their workplace and are focused on getting to know the ins and outs of their role. Be careful here. Don’t contact them right away. Let them establish themselves first.
6. Don’t expect an in-person meeting for an information interview
Most people are very busy and it can be difficult to meet in person. Ask them if they prefer to speak on the phone at a scheduled time or if you can email them with a few questions. If they opt for email, make sure you have pre-written questions. 5-6 questions maximum will work and make sure the questions are clear, not over-complicated or disguised as requests.
Be mindful when networking and offer value to others. Be grateful and memorable. People have good memories – if you network effectively, people remember you fondly and keep you in mind when something comes up down the road.