Are you someone who loves networking? Or do you find it terrifying? Regardless of your feelings toward mingling with total strangers, it’s often a necessary part of finding a great job.
Here are a few tactics you can employ to make the most of the opportunity at hand and facilitate valuable connections. More importantly, the right connections.
- Quality over quantity
It’s better to attend a networking event and talk to a couple of people who you can have a meaningful conversation with and will prove to be genuine connections, rather than speaking to tons of people and collecting business cards all night. You probably won’t be memorable to someone you only speak with for a few minutes. This will help you narrow in on making connections in a field or industry you’re truly interested in pursuing.
- Ask for an intro
No matter what your personality type is – introverted or extroverted – it always helps to have a plan going into a networking event. If you know someone you’d like to meet is going to be there, ask the host to introduce you. This method holds a little more weight since the person you’re being introduced to knows the host and will see you in a different light. You could also do this over email – if you won’t be attending a networking event anytime soon.
- Listen more than you talk
Be sure to listen when you ask someone a question. This may sound obvious, but many people tend to just talk, maybe to fill awkward silence or because they like to chat, but by really listening intently, you may be able to recall your conversation down the line when following up with a connection. It also shows respect for the person you’re speaking with, and if this is someone with a potential job opportunity for you, you want to make the very best impression.
- Leave the door open
Not literally, of course! But you do want to leave each conversation with an open line of communication. Without being forceful or too forward, try to ensure the person you want to maintain a relationship with has your contact information, or ideally, you have theirs. Then be sure to follow up after the event and let them know you’re interested in talking further. You also want to be sure to keep conversations flowing at a networking event. Instead of answering questions with one-word answers, try to tell a story and keep it interesting.
Networking can be tough for many people, but the only way to get better at it is to keep practicing. Attend as many events as possible, or practice public speaking. Even though you’re not speaking in front of an audience, you are presenting yourself and want to make a great impression. You can do this!
Already started networking? Maybe you’ve made some headway and have a few great job opportunities you’re ready to pursue. Get started with Rake today to simplify your job search and keep track of all your applications! The perfect fit is just around the corner.