|The Nuances of Networking|
|Written by Abby Kohut|
These days, everyone, including yours truly, has been ranting and raving about the benefits of networking. The question is, is it good enough just to attend a networking event or is there really more magic required? The answer is that there is.
The magic is all about you. You create the success of the event, as opposed to relying on everyone else around you to create it. Simply put, you get out what you put in, and in some cases, you get so much more.
The most important thing to realize about networking is that almost everyone is nervous regardless of how many events they have attended in the past. As you enter the room, notice the people that look like deer gazing into the headlights. That person is sometimes going to be you. So then, how can you turn this nervous energy into success? It's simple – just start asking questions.
Find someone who looks as scared as you feel and walk right up to them. Ask them their name, rank & serial number (or just their name), and then ask them if they live or work in the area or if they have been to the group before or whether they know anyone else in the room. This kind of small talk will put both of you at ease.
After the conversation gets going, you can begin to ask some more involved questions such as "What industry do you work in?" or "What kinds of positions are you looking for?" or "What are your target companies?" Asking questions will make the person believe that you really care about helping them, and that, my friends, is the key to "paying it forward".
Once your networking buddy answers all of your questions, he or she will start asking questions about you. This is a key point in your conversation. Based on the time you have available, you should be delivering a well-planned, well-rehearsed elevator pitch. In the same way that you have 7 seconds to get a recruiter to like your resume, you only have about 10 to 15 seconds to get someone to understand you via your elevator pitch. If they don't understand what you are talking about, how can they possibly help you? If your pitch is not memorable, you may fade into the noise of the event and others won't make the connection when they meet someone else who has a lead that might help you.
A solid elevator pitch is necessary at a networking event, but it also necessary every time you talk to anyone about your job search, whether it is someone you've known forever or someone you just met on line at Sears. It's so important that I created a workshop to help you with yours.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Anyone, including an introvert, can learn to be a networker and can even learn to enjoy it. So many of my close friendships resulted from a deer in the headlights journey into a scary room where I knew no one. Networking is not just recommended for job search success this year – it is an Absolute requirement. Be brave, show your pearly whites, and let's go out and network together!