Focus on Relationships

 

group professionals

Networking is not a one way street.  It's a give and take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. Relating to others is not a technique for getting a job or a favor. 

Handing out your business cards on street corners; cold calling everyone on your contact list; or working a room of strangers is not something you have to do.  All you have to do is reach out to the people within your network.

  • Authentic - In any job search or networking situation, your should show who you really are. Hiding who you are or suppressing your true interests and goals will only hurt you in the long run. It will always be more fulfilling and ultimately more successful, if you pursue what you want and not what you think others will like, 
  • Considerate - If you’re reconnecting with an old friend or colleague, take the time to catch up before you blurt out your need. On the other hand, if this person is a busy professional you don’t know well, be respectful of his or her time and come straight out with your request.
  • Advice - A request comes with a lot of pressure. You want your contacts to become allies in your job search, not make them feel ambushed.  Ask for information or insight instead of asking for a job or other need. If they’re able to hire you or refer you to someone who can, they will. If not, you haven’t put them in the uncomfortable position of turning you down or telling you they can’t help.
  • Specific - Before you go off and reconnect with everyone you’ve ever known, get your act together and do a little homework. Be prepared to articulate what you’re looking for. Is it a reference? An insider’s take on the industry? A referral? An introduction to someone in the field? Provide an update on your qualifications and recent professional experience.

Enjoy the Networking Process

The best athletes are masters of slowing down and shifting gears. They know the fastest way to their goal is to slow down, so they can maneuver to the end zone, basket, goal, or finish line.  As you’re networking, keep the idea of shifting gears for maneuverability in mind.

Effective networking is not something that should be rushed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be efficient and focused.   

Hurried, emergency networking is not conducive to building relationships for mutual support and benefit. Slow down when you network, be present, and try to enjoy the process. This will quicken your chances for success in reaching your goals. Just because you have an agenda doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy reconnecting.

Hit and Run Networking

Connecting; getting what you want; and then disappearing, never to be heard from until the next time you need something is definitely not the best way to establish relationships. Invest in your network by following up and providing feedback to those who were kind of enough to offer their help. Thank them for their referral and assistance. Let them know whether you got the interview or the job. Use the opportunity to report on the lack of success or the need for additional help.