The ABCs of Networking – You Can’t Excel Without Them!
By Daisy Wright.
It is said that Bill Gates’ rise to the top may have resulted from an act of networking. Apparently his mother sat on the same Board of Directors as an IBM president, and that contact led to IBM purchasing the MS DOS operating system from Bill. Think about that! As timeworn as the word networking is, it is through this process that approximately 65% to 80% of available jobs or opportunities are discovered. Networking opens the doors to the hidden job market, and if you’ve not learned this art, many opportunities may be passing you by. Here is my ABC list of networking tips that I have put together to help you move your career forward.
Attend as many networking events as often as you can. It’s a “numbers game”. The more events you attend, the more people you’ll meet.
Business Cards. Have adequate supply on hand and give them out to new contacts before you end your conversation with them.
Contact or follow-up all leads. You never know which one will produce results.
Dress appropriately for the event. If you are unsure about the dress code that’s in effect, call ahead to find out.
Explain who you are and what you do in 30 seconds or less. Give people enough interesting and relevant information that they will want to contact you for details.
Find opportunities. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities. They have a way of springing up when you least expect.
Go for it! Determine beforehand how many people you would like to meet at the event and just go for it!
Help others. Networking is a two-way street, and it’s in helping others that you’ll be helped.
Identify a person you would like to meet and have someone you know and who knows the person make the introduction. Remember the Bill Gates’ connection.
Join other networks or associations that meet your personal and professional needs.
Keep focused. Concentrate on the person who is speaking. It’s in poor taste for your eyes to be searching the room while you are in discussion with someone.
Learn to listen. You need sharp listening skills to interpret and analyze what’s being said.
Mingle. That’s the whole purpose for being there. Many of us tend to latch on to the people we already know and lose out on many networking opportunities.
Never use someone’s business card as a notepad (especially in front of them). If you have to, wait until the person leaves, or ask for permission.
Objectives. To motivate you to action, develop a set of networking objectives or goals that tell you what direction to take.
Prepare to give. Some people think only of what they can get, but giving can be equally rewarding.
Quickly end the conversation and walk away if you encounter a rude or abusive person. You are in search of positive and uplifting experiences.
Relax. Almost everyone in the room is as nervous as you are. Take a deep breath, go over to someone and introduce yourself.
Share any information that you think will benefit your network, without asking “What’s in it for me?”
Treat everyone you meet with respect. The decision-maker is not always the CEO.
Understand and appreciate peoples’ differences. You will have taken the first step towards breaking down barriers.
Volunteer your services. It provides an opportunity to showcase your skills. Many people have obtained jobs or business opportunities through volunteering.
Work hard at networking. If you replace the ‘E’ in networking with an ‘O’ it spells ‘Notworking’.
X-ray. Develop your x-ray vision. This is a networking technique where you target several companies you’d like to work for, find someone who currently works for the company then begin to cultivate a relationship with that individual. If an opportunity exists in the organization, you’ll be the first to know.
You have the skills and abilities to develop effective networking strategies. Believe in yourself!
Zealously nurture your network. Keep in touch with those who have helped you find success and remember those you’ve left behind.
Now you know your ABCs, you’re one step closer to moving your career forward.
Daisy Wright, CDPC, BA, CPS, is the president and founder of WCS – the Wright Career Solution. She is a trained Career Development Practitioner, who has been empowering individuals to find success through effective career coaching strategies.