25 May 2020
5 simple networking tips for job seekers
If you’re new to networking, it can feel daunting when you’re stood in a room full of strangers on your own.
Here’s a quick throwaway. Having to approach someone unknown to you, coupled with the worry about what to say to them is normal for the more socially adept among us. The best networkers weren’t born that way.
Repetitive practice has allowed them to develop a set of skills that’s helped them become more successful in both their working and their personal lives. Networking is the art of opening doors and creating opportunities for the benefit of others – then ourselves.
It’s more than swapping business cards. It’s about developing relationships that will support you and allow you to support others.
With this in mind, here’s a few benefits for job seekers planning on attending network events.
Benefits of networking
Benefit 1: Networking allows us to meet new people. Through networking we can find new friends, business partners, mentors, customers and future employers.
Benefit 2: Networking can connect us with like-minded people, allow us to share our expertise and learn new skills and expertise.
Benefit 3: Networking allows us to help others achieve their personal and work goals. In the process, we can also reach ours.
Benefit 4: Networking can help us with a work promotion, a career change or finding a job that gives us meaningful work.
In no order or preference, here are some basic networking tips to get you started:
Tip 1: Find an event where you will meet like-minded people
Start with the easy stuff. Rather than attend the next finance auditor’s bi-annual networking event (unless you’re an auditor in the finance sector) look for networking events where you can meet likeminded people. The conversation will be easier and you’ll connect with some great people to share common knowledge.
When you arrive, look for people stood on their own. It’s likely you will be, unless you go with someone. Go over and introduce yourself and speak with them.
Tip 2: Relax and be yourself
Forget about your own message and genuinely take an interest in other people. When you find someone to connect with, you’ll genuinely take an interest in them by asking questions about them. You may wish to find out what they do for a living or how they got into their line of work. By focusing on other people we forget all about our own message, putting less pressure on us. The natural outcome is we relax. We also remember people who take a genuine interest in us. That’s how we’re programmed.
Tip 3: Go along to a networking function with someone you know.
If you’re worried about going along to a networking event, go with someone you know. Where possible, go with someone who’s been networking before. Follow the advice in tip 2 and get to know some interesting people.
Tip 4: Set yourself a realistic goal / outcome you want to achieve from networking
Before going to a networking event set yourself a realistic goal or an outcome that you want to achieve at your first event. This may be to speak and connect with 5 likeminded people or it might be to help someone connect with someone you know. Whatever goal you set yourself, don’t set your targets too high. Make sure they’re realistic and they don’t add any pressure to you. If anything, the goal should be to try and help other people.
Tip 5: Explain why you do what you do
At some point at an event, someone is going to ask you what you do for a living. It’s easy to launch into your job title or your last 5 years’ employment history. Try and skip that part. Instead, explain your “why.” In other words, explain why you do your work. What’s your greater purpose?
Example: “I help the small-to-medium sized lithium companies round town design and build their plants quickly, so their clients can upgrade the phones we use every day.”
There’s a bigger meaning to what you do. Work out what it is. Then keep it short and simple.
Bonus tip: Don’t push your business card in someone’s face before talking to them
Why do most people still think this is OK? It’s because they don’t know better. There’s nothing more off-putting than someone pushing their card in your face before you even know who they are or whether there’s any alignment between you. Get to know someone first. If you can help them or they can help you, share your cards at that point.
There are hundreds of networking tips out there, however, it’s best to cover some basics first.
Remember: Be yourself, be interested and help others where you can. The rest will fall into place.