One direct skill set can exponentially improve your ability to get a job- networking. Being able to connect with others can open countless professional opportunities!
We live in a digital age and some job seekers assume that face to face interaction has become passé, but nothing could be farther from the truth. People are literally starved for making connections with people in an analog fashion.
Here are some tips for ways to maximize your next face to face networking event:
1. Mindset – Many job seekers are myopic in their approach to networking. They have a “what’s in it for me mentality.” A smart job seeker looks for ways to help other attendees achieve their goals. It can’t be solely based on you. Take some time to ask some probing, but tactful questions to find out why they are in attendance as well. The use of cognitive shortcuts, by asking a few salient questions, can set you apart from the rest of the competition.
2. Know when to hold’em, and when to fold’em- Many job seekers are great at talking about themselves, but may not be prepared to listen. There is a time to stop “pitching” and to start listening. If a job seeker is intuitive the other person will give you opportunities to selectively work in your background. Active listeners gain information more quickly than those to who fail to pick up on communication cues.
3. Undivided Attention- There is nothing more damaging than quickly giving your 30-second elevator pitch, shoving a business card at a prospective employer and walking away. Be keen to make eye contact with the person you are talking with. It is best practice to not constantly “scan the room” while already engaged in a conversation. It can give the impression you are looking for more important people in which to engage. Every person you interact with should feel they are the most important person in the room at that moment!
4. Follow-up- Building relationships takes time. Every relationship has to start somewhere and the introduction is simply the first step. Within three days of the event, be sure to send a follow-up communication. Do not directly ask about internal opportunities in the first e-mail or meeting. Take the time to inquire about opportunities in less direct ways. Building trust and relationships take time and investment!