Most jobs are filled with candidates that were sourced through networking. Networking will maximize your exposure in the market and will assist in gathering information that can lead to job opportunities. Networking is about building useful relationships and fostering mutual support with people. Only when you have built up trust and credibility with a network contact can you begin to rely on that person for job leads or a direct referral.
Calling networking partners with specific goals in mind will help you make the most of your conversations. Your goals for networking meetings should be to:
- Generate awareness of you in the marketplace
- Establish relationships with partners – give as well as take
- Build credibility that could lead to referrals
- Collect information on the industry, company, function and/or position
- Get introductions to (or names of) at least two more contacts
- Open relationship for continued dialogue
To arrange and execute a successful networking meeting:
- Schedule a time suitable to both parties to have the conversation.
- Be ready to tell your story. Plan to take about thirty seconds to frame yourself in the other person's mind. Remember to include: who you are and what your background is; what you are looking for; and how you want the individual to help you.
- Come or call with your agenda in mind – you asked for the meeting so you should plan it.
- Ask pertinent questions and strive to have the networking partner do most of the talking.
- Get permission to use the networking partner's name in calling individuals he/she may suggest you contact. Often partners will call ahead to assist you in this effort.
- Agree on a plan to call back in 5-6 weeks to check in and see if other ideas have come to mind.
- Write thank you notes and keep network partners up to date on your progress. They can keep assisting you if you stay visible and keep them informed.
- Keep a business diary – a chronological record of notes to yourself about contacts, phone conversations, thoughts, interview debriefs etc... Since networking often isn't "linear" and there can be long gaps between contacts, these notes become invaluable to go back and refresh. Consider using a system such as Outlook to track networking activities.