5 Essential Tips for Efficient Networking
Do you ever get the feeling that your networking efforts are going nowhere? That no matter how many business cards you give out, people either don’t follow up or don’t seem all that interested in what you have to say?
If you have yet to see any actual benefits from networking, don’t give up! All you may need is a couple of tweaks to the way you approach networking situations. Here are 5 tips that will help you make the most out of every contact you make.
1. Set clear objectives
Before any networking event, ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of it. What is your most pressing need at this stage of your job search? Are you looking for someone who could critique your resume, or for someone who works for a company you are targeting?
Setting objectives will help you become more strategic and efficient in looking for new contacts. It will also allow you to tell if an event was worth attending or not. For example, if you didn’t meet any of your objectives at a typical Chamber of Commerce or BNI meeting, you might want to try a more informal kind of event next time.
2. Introduce yourself effectively
Getting straight to the point is crucial in a networking setting. Everyone wants to maximize their time, so rambling on and on about what you do is a luxury you can’t afford.
Here are a few golden rules to keep in mind:
› Prepare in advance. If necessary, rehearse your introduction a few times until you can deliver it smoothly.
› Be concise and clear. 4 or 5 sentences is probably a maximum before it starts sounding like you’re giving a speech instead of having a normal conversation.
› Make a point of emphasizing what you are good at – or what kind of problem you solve – rather than just describing what you do. North Americans are very solution-oriented, so don’t hesitate to state clearly what added value you can bring to an employer.
3. Ask for what you need
Let your contacts know precisely how they can help you. Nothing is worse than a request so vague (“So… yeah… it’d be great if you could help me”) that your contact has to figure out him- or herself what you actually need.
Seasoned networkers will sometimes cut to the chase and ask directly what they can do for you. Don’t let the question catch you off guard. The clearer your answer, the likelier that you will indeed get the help you need.
4. Offer to help
If you are a little uneasy about asking for help without giving anything in return, you will be relieved to know that successful networking is all about give and take. Paying it forward is probably the smartest move you can make to ensure a fruitful outcome.
As a newcomer without a large local network, you may feel you have little to offer to the people you meet. This is where you need to think beyond the obvious.
You might not be able to give your contacts a hot sales lead, but you could share your expertise in your field, contribute your international perspective to a brainstorming session, or perhaps translate some documents into your mother tongue.
5. Follow up
Making new contacts is a great first step, but it is only through following up that you will build actual relationships. If possible, send your follow up message within the next business day, while you are still fresh in the other person’s mind.
Be sure to suggest a next step in order to keep the relationship moving forward, whether it’s meeting for coffee or introducing your new contact to someone in your own network.
As you can see, networking goes way beyond simply showing up and handing out business cards. It requires preparation, practice, and follow-up. Once you see for yourself how a proper networking strategy can boost your job search, though, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without such a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Winning Away Expat Support
Emmanuelle Archer helps newcomers to Vancouver decode the local recruitment process and find a job in line with their skills. From resume writing to effective networking strategies, she offers job search consulting, career coaching, and cross-cultural training through Winning Away Expat Support.