Networking is something that some people enjoy and others hate. Some people can glide through the art of networking with little or no effort and others break out in a cold sweat and have nightmares.
It really is a necessary ‘evil’ in today’s world. From building friendships, to building businesses, it’s all about networking. People network within their companies to gain trust and respect with their teammates as well as outside places of work to spread their brand and learn about other people and activities in the marketplace.
When focused on the job search aspect of networking, networking is where the action is. Over 85% of jobs are found through conversations at parties, professional organizational meetings or over a cup of coffee. An informational interview takes the pressure out of these settings as well as large conferences and provides an atmosphere where questions and conversations are welcome.
Looking for a job is about building relationships and building trust and networking is a means to do that. Telling your career story with a clear and confident focus on where you’ve been and what you want to do in the future is the key to successful networking. ‘Informational interviews’, are another great opportunity to network in a less intense manner. Informational interviews are similar to employment interviews, but reversed. A job seeker is allowed the opportunity to meet with a professional who shares the career path or occupation sought by the job seeker. This informational meeting brings the two together and provides an opportunity for the job seeker to learn more about a typical day, company culture and career path of the fellow professional. To ensure a successful informational interview, preparation is key. Thought provoking questions a general understanding for the occupation and company knowledge are key components to a beneficial meeting. People want to help people with their careers and are often very open to helping if they know what you want, providing a concise professional history as well as career goals will aid in this. Job seekers who can present their story with clarity and confidence will enable the meeting to be one where both parties will learn and grow.
Lastly, remember to keep your networking meetings to a half hour at the most. No one wants to hear a rambling story without focus and sucking up their valuable time. People will help you with information about their company or career field knowledge but they don’t want to meet with a ‘talking head’ that doesn’t know when to listen too!
If you remember to keep focused and listen to what they say, you will learn and actually enjoy networking!