A few years back if you had asked me if I would consider getting a job through Networking, I would have scoffed. Never! I can find a job by applying directly through the company and on my own merits, I would have said. Fast forward a couple of years and I found most of my jobs through networking. So what changed? Well, I moved to the US for business school.
Business school in the US is all about networking. There are no on campus placements, rather there are information sessions, where you interact with representatives from companies and network with them. They then put in a good word for you, if you’ve managed to strike a connection with them and you get invited to interview.
For a lot of us, the idea of networking seems unpalatable. Here are some tips to network effectively, whether you’re networking with your school’s alum or a stranger you reached out to over LinkedIn.
1. Network when you don’t have to
It takes a lot of pressure off you, if you network when you don’t really have to. A mistake many of us make is reaching out to our connections only when we’ve lost a job or find ourselves in tough situations. Why not make networking a part of your life? Reaching out to 2 or 3 people a week to ask them about their work or their companies will not take much time. If you do find yourself out of a job due to some reason it will be easier to reconnect with your connections and ask for help.
2. Network only with people you are genuinely interested in
Have you attended an interview or participated in a conversation when you felt the other person was not really interested? It’s so easy to tell when you’re having a conversation just for the sake of it and it’s not a good feeling. Don’t be that person. Respect your time and the time of the person who has agreed to connect with you and reach out only to the people you’re genuinely interested in.
3. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Many of us are afraid to be vulnerable and show weakness. Vulnerability is what connects us as humans. If you reach out to the other person and are authentic and vulnerable, it will make your personality far more appealing than some one who puts up a false air of confidence. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask.
4. Listen well
A healthy dose of confidence is good, but make sure you don’t come off as arrogant or as having all the answers when you network with someone. The purpose of having the conversation is to get information and let the other person do most of the talking. The conversation will be more memorable if you ask relevant questions and listen. Keep the conversation comfortable for your contact and ask interesting questions. If you ask questions related to their own personal experience on the job, you can’t go wrong. You’ll learn more about them as a person. A sense of humor helps as well 🙂
5. Do your research
There’s nothing more annoying to someone who has generously offered their time, only to find out that the person who reached out doesn’t have any idea of what they are asking about. You don’t have to go overboard with research, but you should be aware of the major trends in the industry and also any major developments in the company you’re interested in. Otherwise, people will just assume that you either live under a rock or are too lazy to do your job.
I hope these tips will help you Network more effectively. Networking is not rocket science. All it takes is a little bit of empathy, emotional intelligence and conversation skills. The more you do it, the better you’ll get with time. Happy Networking!
I’m Shuba, and I blog at Bazaar Expert about business, software products, money and life. I’m interested in minimalism and am always looking for ways to declutter my life.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.