When looking for a job, you’ll find most people want to help you. They just don’t know how. It’s your job to tell them what you need.
In planning for an upcoming networking meeting, here’s an idea: Have objectives! In other words, go into the meeting knowing what you want to get out of it. It’s not very difficult if you hang your requests on these three pegs:
- Feedback. Get the other person’s input on your resume, cover letter and job search strategies. Seek feedback on market conditions and other areas where the person has expertise or knowledge.
- Names. Ask for names of other individuals who might be helpful in your job search. Perhaps the other person will offer to introduce you to the new contact. Such introductions are especially beneficial. If you are going to contact the person directly, make sure you have permission prior to using someone’s names as a door-opener when introducing yourself.
- Follow-up. Ask the person if you can stay in touch. Who could deny such a request? Then, by all means, find ways to follow up. I’m dumbfounded by the number of people who look at a networking meeting as a one-time interaction rather than the beginning of professional relationship. You can stay connected via LinkedIn, e-mail, a handwritten thank you note, an in-person follow-up meeting or some other method of keeping the person updated on your status.
Look for ways to give something back. Any good relationship is always interactive and ongoing. Those who only take and never give back will never be successful networkers.
Those who view networking as a short-term means for getting a job will find the experience shallow and burdensome. However, those who see networking as a way of life—a way of staying connected with the world—will be rewarded in unexpected and inmeasurable ways.