Depending on the type of person you are, the word networking can either send a shiver down your spine or have you rejoicing just at the sound of it.
Regardless of how you personally feel about networking, being able to do it successfully and efficiently is an important skill in career progression.
How should you prepare for a networking event?
- Write down your goals for the event – there is no point in going along with having no idea in mind as to what you want out of the event.
- Research the people you want to meet – that way you can stalk (not literally) them out at the event quickly and not waste time trying to figure out who everyone is.
- Even better, reach out to them in advance on LinkedIn or through email to let them know your intentions of meeting at the event.
- Have a contact information collection strategy – something more sophisticated than business cards thrown in your back pocket never to be looked at again.
The MOST LIKELY QUESTIONS someone will ask you
- What does your business do?
- What is your unique selling proposition?
- How are you different from other businesses?
- How much experience do you have or how long have you been in the business?
Have your answers prepared and expect these questions to be asked. You don’t have to convince anyone to work with you at this stage – just be honest and truthful about your goals.
If you have no experience, say that you work with a business that has many years’ experience in your industry.
The questions that YOU SHOULD be asking
- Where do you recommend I go while I’m here?
- How did you hear about this event?
- What is your favourite thing to do?
- What is on your reading list?
- What did you think about the event?
- What is your story?
- How did you decide to do what you do?
- What are some of your go-to resources for getting guidance in your field of work?
- How can I be helpful to you right now?
Everybody loves to talk about themselves and most of the time we’re just waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can jump in with what our job role is, where we want to go and why they should work with us.
But, just stop. Approach networking as a long term game. Networking is about building relationships that will withstand the test of time and help you to build a long term career with your contacts by your side. It’s not just about getting a job today, but about the lifetime value of that contact for jobs well into the future.
People do business with people they like.
For further information on a new way to network (not like the old way, the new way) check out Mark E. Sackett’s Ted Talk here.
Finally, how do you test if you’ve done a good job at networking?
Analysing results is one of the hardest tasks when it comes to determining the worth of your networking efforts. Think of it this way.
Name someone you would refer for each of the following professions.
- Financial Advisor
- Life Coach
- Real Estate Agent
- Dog Walker
- Insurance Broker
Do you have someone you would positively refer for each of the above? If not, you’ve still got work to do in networking.