Go to any job fair, career event, mixer, or gathering and you’ll hear people murmuring about networking. Any headline offering advice about finding a job in a tough economy mentions networking as the best way to find a job. Career coaches, speakers, consultants and other experts all tout the value of networking. Here are three tips for learning how to network like a pro.
Realize Its Value
Networking is the only credible way to find a job in this economy. Employers are inundated with resumes. Most will take a referral from a network over an unsolicited resume any time. People trust the word of a trusted source.
Use the Right Tools
Use Modern Tools
- Social networks. Social media a must if you want to be an effective networker. Make the most of it by keeping your your profile current, use appropriate photos and participate in discussions. Networking is something you do all the time, not just when you need something. Part of building rapport with your network is to feed it with information. Troll the web daily for relevant articles on major sites that some of your contacts will find interesting. Make things easier by using a tool like HootSuite to queue up articles to ping your social media connections.
- Blogs. Blogs are a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. The key is to blog on meaningful topics and develop relevant content to your area of expertise. Opinions are fine, just be sure to back them up with data and facts.
Use Old-School Tools
- Face to face. When attending meetings and events, introduce yourself and rather than talk about yourself, ask “How can I help you?” Ditch the “elevator speech” and replace with dialog. Make it all about them, not about you. If you have business cards, then master the art of the card exchange. Don’t shove yours in their face, but ask permission to have their card.
- Phone. Yes, most smartphones contain a feature that enables you to actually make a phone call to someone. Try it rather than a text or email and see what happens. E-mail, letters, and postcards work well too. Find an excuse to reach out reach out to people by recognizing major events and accomplishments.
Make It a Priority
Adopt the 10/15 program which means sending 10 pieces of correspondence and making 15 phone calls to “ping” your network.
Networking is difficult which is why so few people do it consistently or well. Try out some of these tips and let me know how it works for you!
Want to learn more? Watch my video on this topic. Or check out these books, which are some of my favorites for learning how to network:
- “Networking is a Contact Sport“ – Joe Sweeney.
- “Never Eat Alone” – Keith Ferrazzi.
- “Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others” – Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas.