Having good networking skills will help you in your job search. It is not just passing out cards at a mixer – there should be some strategy involved as well. You can improve your networking skills if you incorporate the following steps.
Before any networking event, you should prepare yourself by looking up information about the venue, speakers, and attendees beforehand. This allows you to strategically plan who you want to contact; you can also set up a plan for this introduction too.
Have an Elevator Speech Ready
Since you are only going to have a short amount of time at live networking events to introduce yourself to your new contact, you need to have your elevator pitch fine-tuned and ready to go. You want to sell yourself to the person you are meeting – who you are and what you want to do – in a one minute speech. You need to practice this elevator speech in the mirror at home over and over again. You don’t want to sound unprepared.
Courtesy is not Overrated
Whether it is online or in person, you have to be polite in your interactions with other people. You want to engage – don’t let the interaction be all about you. Ask questions to show that you are listening and paying attention. Good manners and courtesy may help you stand out in a good way during your interactions.
You will get a number of business cards at each networking function. Let’s say you get the card to the hiring manager that you have been trying to contact for months. You take it home and lose it – horror of all horrors! Don’t wait once you collect some business cards; after you leave the networking function, you should enter the information into your phone, tablet, or computer as soon as possible. Lost business cards make your entire networking experience a waste.
Stay In Touch
Don’t make contacts and then ignore them. You should spend at least one hour each week interacting with your network. This can be in person, by phone, or online. You can exchange articles, schedule a meeting for coffee, or find other ways to keep in contact. You can also follow up in social media to further solidify your connection. You want to develop a relationship so that the contact thinks of you when the opportunity presents itself. You also don’t want the contact to have no idea of who you are when you need some help.
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