We all know and understand the importance of networking… and the value it can provide your career when done right.
And yet, very few of us do it right. Sometimes, we’re so concerned with impressing someone with our inflated “personal brand” we forget the fundamentals of effective networking; the little things that make a big difference.
To help us get back to basics, here are seven rules of networking you must know before attending a networking event or having a one-on-one meeting with a new networking contact:
1. Create an Elevator Pitch
You should have an idea about what you want to say, prior to any encounters. A good way to prepare for this is to create an elevator pitch, which is a 30-60 second summary about yourself. You want to get your point across quickly — and sell your personal brand. An elevator pitch is a great opening statement to have in the back of your mind if you ever need it.
2. Know What You’re Looking For
You should know what you hope to achieve from networking. It could be just to get contacts, get a job, or gain experience talking to people. Either way, you need to make it clear to yourself why you are doing this. Plus, you should have an idea of what industry you’re interested in and what type of job you are looking for. Research is something that should be done before you try to network with anyone.
3. Always Be Yourself
I’m sure you have heard this phrase many times, but while it may seem cliché, it is the truth. Being authentic is an attribute many employers and companies value.
4. Look to Expand Your Network
Something to remember about networking is that it is all about connecting with people. This means introducing yourself to individuals outside of your immediate circle. By expanding your network, it will help you gain knowledge — and eventually hopefully receive a job!
5. Actively Listen
The people you’re networking with are most likely going to have some valuable tips and advice, so it is crucial you listen to them. Part of conversation is engaging others, and paying attention to another person is a great way to do this. Something to keep in mind is you should listen as much as you talk, if not more. You might be surprised by the information you come across from talking with someone. After all, the definition of networking is creating a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship.
6. Ask Open-ended Questions
It is a good idea to avoid asking questions that will lead to a yes or no answer because you’ll just graze the surface of conversation. Ask open-ended questions like who, what, when, where, and why. These types of questions will allow for a more meaningful discussion.
7. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up!
The final secret is one of the most important because it can lead to future meetings. After attending an event or connecting with someone, it is so imperative to follow up. This could involve sending them an email, handwritten letter, or calling them on the phone. It ultimately doesn’t matter which form of communication you use. After following up with them once, it is vital to stay in touch with them. You never know when they might be able to help you get an interview, or introduce you to another person who can take you places.
What are some tips you have for networking? What rules do you follow? Let us know below!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Glassdoor.com!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets. Follow Heather on Twitter!