Most people know that networking is one of the best ways to find a new job or learn about new opportunities. Some people are more comfortable than others at doing it. It can be somewhat daunting, mostly if you have never done it before. Here are three tips on how to make the most of it.
1. Make a plan for contacting people
Before you even begin contacting people, you need to do a little planning first. Otherwise, you may just be spinning your wheels and wasting time. You have to think about what you want to accomplish through networking, your goals, and what information or opportunities you are looking for. You also need to think about your presentation, what you will say to the person, and the questions you will ask.
This will help you narrow down your contacts to those who can help you the most, rather than randomly calling people. You can begin your networking with people whom you know. This will make for an easier and probably more effective start.
What you also need to know about networking is that it needs to be a reciprocal arrangement. To call up people you don’t know and ask them about job opportunities will not make a good impression. You need to offer something in return, some information, contacts, or ideas that can be used. The relationship has to be beneficial to both you and your contact.
That is why before you call, you need to do some research on the contact to find out what their professional interests or needs might be.
2. Network at professional conferences or events
Here too, you need to do some planning. You need to decide which events would be the most productive for you in terms of meeting people. Who is it you want to meet? Set a goal for the event. For example, your goal may be to talk to five people and follow up with three.
Sometimes, organizers will publish a list of those attending an event and their professional affiliations. If you have such a list prior to the event, you can use it to determine whom you want to talk to and do a little background research on them.
Work on your introduction. Leading off with your name and title is not very exciting. A better approach might be to start with the organization you are with and what you do for it.
3. Build a social media presence
LinkedIn, for example, is a very good site for networking. In addition to a space for your profile outlining your professional accomplishments, you can post your resume, blog, and join professional discussion groups online.
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