But especially during a job search, there’s a built-in problem: how do you approach someone you want to meet without sounding like a desperate job seeker?
Here are six tips that will help you expand your network, and avoid coming across as more than someone saying, “I’m reaching out because I really need a job!”:
Make Your Request Clear and Sincere
Your request for a conversation must be sincere and free of hidden agendas. You will not ask for a job. You won’t even mention the word “job” during your conversation.
To help secure the phone call or meeting, make sure you’re crystal clear in what types of questions and topics you plan on covering. It also helps to include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your request to meet and you may even want to share your succinct value proposition.
Remember, networking is like dating, you don’t hit a home run on the first date. Be patient!
Tap Your Friends’ Friends
Your friends would like to help you, but they usually don’t know how. So do the heavy lifting and research whom your friends know! Look on Facebook and LinkedIn to see who is in their network and ask your friends for an introduction.
Again, when making the request of the friend to be clear and sincere. Explain exactly why their contact is of value to you in your quest for information. And by all means, make it easy for your them to forward your request as is so making the introduction is as easy as possible to execute.
Don’t Just Lurk on LinkedIn Groups
You have certainly noticed posted discussions on LinkedIn groups. But have maybe been afraid to jump into the conversation?
One way to begin a dialogue with someone you want to connect with is to read the posted discussion and ask a follow-up question relevant to what they shared. Generally, people who share information are open to conversations, and to expanding their personal networks.
Another way to approach someone in a group is to invite him or her to connect after you have carefully read his or her profile and have a reason to reach out. You may be interested in the company he or she worked for. Perhaps you graduated from the same college or with a similar degree and you’re interested in learning how they started their career. Focusing on these commonalities is a great way to connect!
Craft a Winning Request
Almost any message is better than the default message LinkedIn sends: be original!
Take a few seconds and insert your own words to personalize your reason for wanting to connect. Your message is limited to 185 characters, so you are forced to keep it short and sweet anyway; take full advantage of all the space you have available!
Arnie Fertig, career counselor, On Careers blogger and owner of JOBHUNTERCOACH, recommends including these three elements in your introduction:
- How you know or found the person the person you’re inviting. Convey something uniquely personal.
- Explain why you want to link up with him or her.
- Present your offer of reciprocity.
Stop Calling Them “Informational Interviews”
The term “informational interview” tends to send people running in the other direction. Only job seekers and career coaches use this term, and it reeks of, “hire me, I’m looking for a job.”
Informational meetings are a great way to expand your network, but the truth is, you aren’t looking for a job. You’re seeking information. So let’s agree to stop calling it an informational interview. It isn’t an interview at all. It’s a conversation. It’s a meeting.
So ask for a meeting, and not an informational interview, and get far better results.
Keep the Momentum Going
Once you’ve connected or met with someone, keep in touch. There are many ways of staying “top of mind,” serving as a conduit of information is just one way you can maintain your relationships.
Plan on sending your new contact an interesting article or send congratulations along when you hear or see special announcements about their company. You’re nurturing your relationship and staying top of mind. It is the strength of your relationships that will help you learn about future opportunities and meet new contacts in your career field.
The key is to growing your sphere of influence: doing it with patience, planning and class. Rise above your job seeking competition, and expand your personal network the right way, by following these six proven tips!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at CareerSherpa!
About the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa, and follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!