If you are currently looking for a job, or anticipate looking for a job anytime in the near future, pay close attention. Regardless of what type of job you might be looking for, one thing is certain: The better you are at networking the more easily you will land your next position!
In doing the research for my upcoming book “Do you have what it takes to be a 6 Figure Success?,” I found that all of the 6 figure earners I interviewed agreed that a strong network was critical to their success, both in the short term and in the long term.
So how does one become an effective networker? The good news is, it is not something you have to be born with, it is something you can learn. I remember one of the first networking events I went to when I launched my own company, I did not have a clue! I accosted every person I encountered by forcing my business card upon them and then chatting their ear off for at least 10 minutes at a time (if you were one of the people at that event at Wokano 9 months ago, I apologize!).
Networking is an art form. You have to learn what is effective and what is not. In order to be a effective in a networking situation there are a few things you must do. Below is a list of the top 5 things that can increase your effectiveness in a networking situation:
1) Have an enticing “Tell me about yourself” statement. Perfecting your elevator speech is critical not only in job hunting, but in business in general. You want to be the one that is remembered at the end of the day. One way to be memorable is to give a great elevator speech. It is important to capture your audience’s attention and avoid overwhelming them with so much information their eyes glaze over. To read more about giving a great elevator speech, please refer to an blog I wrote a few months back which can be found at:
2) Keep it short and sweet. Try not to talk to one person for more then 5 minutes at a time. You can always follow up with someone for a coffee after the event, but keep in mind, it is unlikely you will get the chance to network with all of those same people again.
3) Always have a firm handshake and good eye contact! Having a firm handshake and good eye contact indicates confidence. Confidence is something that people find attractive, and more important MEMORABLE. Networking is all about being memorable at the end of the day. Someone who has a weak handshake, or does not have strong eye contact is easily forgettable. If you are nervous about making eye contact, practice looking yourself in the eye in the mirror while you give your elevator speech.
4) Get to know people and ask what you can do for them. No one likes a person who is all about ME, ME, ME. Unfortunately, many people have turned networking events into nothing more then being a walking, talking billboard. People will often walk up and hand you their card before you know anything about them. This is not what networking is about. It is about creating long lasting, sustainable and trustworthy relationships. Next time you are in a networking situation, wait for the person you are speaking with to ask for your card or ask them for their card. When someone takes the time to ask for your card, they will be much more likely to remember who you are.
5) Follow up! If you do not follow up with the people you meet, you are simply wasting your time. I find that people who attend networking events are often confused as to what they are supposed to do after the event is over. The answer is simple: Follow up! What does following up mean? It means taking the time to send a follow up email the next day. If you can, make the email personal, and it will be more meaningful. In your follow up, you might want to offer a potential referral or resource, or mention a subject that was discussed at the networking event.
Finally, I highly recommend connecting with all people you meet on Linkedin. This is critical. There has never been a more easy or FREE way to keep track of business contacts. You never know where you could get a job lead from or if the person you connect with on Linkedin might be a great business contact for you in the future.
Remember: It is not about you, it is about them! People will go out of their way to connect with you and help you if you pay it forward by helping them!