No matter how much you hate networking, it’s an inevitable part of job search and if done right it can open the doors for your dream job. Confidence is the key when it comes to opening up with strangers who might hold the key of your next job.
But if the mere idea of networking sends you into “I would rather stare at my phone screen” mode, then you should definitely read this post.
Networking is incredibly important during a job search. The right employee referral can increase your chances multiple times of landing the job interview. Your network can help you find specific leads at companies and can support you during your job search.
Even at workplace networking is extremely important. If you sit in a corner all day and don’t engage with anyone at work, then it creates a question mark on your social skills. Working quietly is a fine, but working mechanically with no human interaction is not recommended. Companies look for employees who can build strategic partnerships to drive business agendas and if you are scared of networking then you’ll have a hard time in rising up the ranks.
In this post, we take a look at 5 best strategies for networking especially for students and professional who don’t like networking. These strategies work even if you don’t know anything about networking.
1. Don’t overthink and make a start
If you are not naturally good at networking then you can tag along with one of your colleagues during their networking meeting just to get rid of your inhibitions. You should prepare for the networking opportunity, even if you are just going to get a hang of it. Listen and observe how your colleagues introduce themselves and how they interact during networking. No harm in picking some traits if it helps you in improving you own networking skills.
Once you make a start you should attend subsequent networking events with specific small goals. Make a goal to connect with 2 new people in your industry at next networking event. Soon, you’d be surprise with your own growth in your networking skills. Keep the momentum going once you start networking.
2. Do your homework
If you wanted to grow professionally, you should definitely do homework before you start networking. If making a small talk doesn’t come naturally to you then practice a short opening script. You should definitely carry your business card with you for networking meeting. Don’t be lazy to forget them at your desk or home.
You don’t have to take out the paper and read the script in front . However, having the right word construct in your mind can help you with initial jitters. You’ll soon be confident and won’t need rehearsal. As a student, start networking with you college alumni as they are easily approachable.
3. Listen to what people say
Listening can be the easiest part when you start networking or the most difficult depending upon how you take it. When you listen to someone in one-to-one networking meeting, don’t feel overwhelmed by their presence and focus on what they are speaking. In the beginning, you would forget names and lose track of conversation or speak too much. It’s all fine. Once you go back home from a networking event, write a short summary of your experience and work upon your weakness.
If you are a college student, keep a notepad handy for taking notes during networking events. However, don’t just keep staring at your notepad while the other person is speaking. Remember it’s a networking interaction not a dictation session. You have an equal responsibility to contribute to the discussion. Keep the interaction healthy and alive by referring to the points that you noted so that it appears natural.
4. Networking is not a race
Networking is not a race, it’s a marathon. You can’t meet everyone in a single networking event. That’s why you should start with smaller events or one-to-one meetings. Take one step at a time when you start networking. Not everyone you’ll meet would be in a position to offer you a job right straightaway. However, they can introduce you to someone who’s recruiting in their own company or in their network.
Even if they can’t do much for you in terms of hiring, they can always help you in your job search by reviewing your resume or job application. In either case, be respectful of their time and don’t rush to “I need a job in your company” statement during networking interaction.
As a job seeker, you would be naturally tempted to ask for a job or attach your resume in the follow up email. However, unless you mutually agreed to share the resume, it’s not advisable to send unsolicited resumes. You don’t want to put all the hard work down the drain.
You could in fact ask them to review your resume so that it meets the standards of their company. This way it doesn’t appear pushy and you get valuable feedback from an insider.
5. Always follow up
One of the most crucial things that most candidates miss out once they start networking is to follow up. Most job seekers don’t follow up as they are too afraid to appear pushy and feel that the other person would be too busy to respond. The key to successfully creating and maintaining a network is to keep the communication channel active after your meeting.
Ideally you should follow up within 24-48 hours after your meeting. Always thank them for their time and mentioning how valuable the discussion was for you. As a matter of fact, you can also offer some interesting piece of article on the topic of your discussion. You can also extend your interest in supporting them on a project to get some experience.
The key is to open the door of professional opportunities. In the same week, offer to connect over LinkedIn with a small note mentioning your networking interaction.
Whatever you do, networking requires sincerity just like any other job in order to succeed.
At StepVue, we help candidates in all the aspects of their job search to guide them towards their career goals. Job search is not an easy task, and it’s natural to feel alone when things don’t go your way.
At StepVue, we work with candidates on their job search strategy and help them achieve their career goals. We provide personalized Resume and CV Review Services, Cover Letter assistance , LinkedIn Profile Review and Personal Branding guidance to help you in your job search.
Good luck with your job search!