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Make Networking Work For You

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Make Networking Work For You

Everyone has been telling you as juniors and seniors you need to start networking in your job search, right?

What exactly does that mean though? How does talking to people about the fact you don’t have a job get you a job? There are more people willing to help you in that job search than you might think. That’s why we’re hosting UMD Networking Night! How can you make it work to your benefit? Here are five ways to make networking work for you:

1.) Mix It Up
Don’t, we repeat, don’t go to the same places with the same people over and over again. It is very easy to seek a pattern or habit when you are in a new and potentially uncomfortable place. Few people like going into a room of strangers and walking up to someone and telling them you are searching for that first job fresh out of college. It sucks enough to know the search itself is going to be long — you don’t like having to say it. But…you have to get over that fear! Expand your list of contacts. Grow your circle. Increase your influences.

– Network in groups of people who are looking for work.
– Network with people who are active in your industry.
– Network with people who already know you.
– Network with professionals who have companies in the same city you want to work.

2.) Know Your Message
You are the President, CEO, and Sales Manager for YOU. What are you selling? Who are you selling it to?

Let us fill you in on a little secret…the answers are not you are selling your resume (or a verbal version of it) to anyone who’s buying. We promise you the “overly general, include everything you’ve ever done, just in case someone might want you to do the job you did 17 years ago” approach doesn’t work in a networking context.

Be specific. You should be able to tell anyone who asks, without hesitation, what your strengths are, a few job titles which would be a good fit for you, and what value you bring to an organization. Also, you should be able to tell anyone who asks 5-10 organizations and/or people you would like to meet or get to know better.

3.) Do What You Say You’ll Do
Everyone knows actions speak louder than words; when you are networking for a job, this is more important than ever. You are sending micro-messages to your network with each and every commitment you make and keep (or don’t). Tell them how great you are!

– If you offer to make a connection for someone, do it. And do it in a timely manner.
– Planning on meeting someone for a quick cup of coffee before you talk internship/job opportunities? Be on time!
– Has someone offered to introduce to you their boss/friend/colleague as soon as you send your resume over? Take the time to tweak the resume for the job and get it over FAST!

Do you have a strategy for helping your network remember what you are looking for? This is your job while you are searching. Don’t assume they will remember exactly which friend is looking for a network administrator job and who is looking for an IT support position. Use tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and email to remind your network of your search.

4.) Stay Top of Mind
NOTE: There is a really fine line here you must learn to walk. Don’t be “that guy” and send 14 messages a week to your full contact list. It’s important to be aggressive, but not so much people stop reading your messages or taking your calls because they are tired of your constant requests for help. Find a comfortable pace at which you will run the race.

5.) Always Be Real
Don’t get us wrong. Networking is work. However, most networking meetings — whether one to one or in a group — are designed for people to connect. So put enough of yourself out there so others can connect to you. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy the opportunity to make some new contacts and potential friends. In sales, there is a saying people do business with those they know, like and trust. Be someone who others will seek to know and like. The trust will follow when you are authentic in your relationships.

ANOTHER NOTE: As with #4, there is a line here. Use discretion when meeting new people and do no tell everyone everything about your personal and private life. Being real and authentic does not mean telling your deepest darkest secrets. Networking is about finding a point of connection.

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