Networking is one of the demons job seekers dread, avoid and start too late. But if you keep these five networking tips in mind, you’ll find there are opportunities to network, the right way, everywhere.
The truth is, you aren’t looking for a job. You’re seeking information. And let’s agree to stop calling it an informational interview. It isn’t an interview at all.
It’s a conversation. It’s a meeting.
You don’t want to use the term informational interview because:
- The word interview sounds like a job interview, which it isn’t, and it scares the people you are reaching out to
- Only job seekers and career coaches use this term
- And it reeks of, “hire me, I’m looking for a job.”
Here are networking tips to help you do this better!
Be Clear and Sincere
Your request for a conversation must be sincere and free of hidden agendas. You will not ask for a job, you won’t even mention the word job during your conversation. In all honesty, you don’t even know if you want a job there yet. You need to get the insider’s perspective, advice and information first.
To help you secure the meeting, phone call or chat, make sure you’re crystal clear about the types of questions and topics you plan on covering. Remember, your goal is to acquire information, advice or recommendations. You can use this list to develop your networking meeting questions.
When you email someone, include a link to your LinkedIn profile and your value proposition. Your value proposition is focused on the needs of others and speaks to how you can help potential employers. It describes the problem or problems you solve. For example, a value proposition may read like this:
“Inspiring new business growth for small business owners by helping them target and engage with the right audience on social media platforms.”
Tap Your Friends’ Friends
Your friends would like to help you, but they usually don’t know how. Do the heavy lifting and research who your friends know.
Look on Facebook and LinkedIn to see who is in their network and ask your friends for an introduction.
After you’ve done your research, email your friend and ask for an introduction. Remember to explain exactly why his or her contact is of value to you in your quest for information. And by all means, make it easy to forward your message along. Explain briefly why you want to meet this person and a concise summary of you. It will make it much easier for your friend to take action. All they need to do is forward your message with their own brief note!
LinkedIn Groups Are Valuable
An underutilized resource within LinkedIn is Groups. Have you paid attention to who is posting discussions within the LinkedIn groups you belong to? Sometimes these discussions are questions, other times, they provide information.
You can use LinkedIn groups to begin a dialogue with someone you want to connect with. Just review and read a posted discussion and ask a follow-up question to what they shared. Generally, people who share information are open to conversations.
If you want to connect with someone, but have no mutual connections, carefully research the groups this person belongs to and join some of them. Once you share a group, you can reach out. This is a little known secret and one of the best reasons to be active in groups!
Request To Connect on LinkedIn
Almost any message is better than the default message LinkedIn sends. Take one second and insert your own words to personalize your reason for wanting to connect.
Your message is limited to 185 characters, so you are forced to keep it short and sweet. Arnie Fertig, career counselor, On Careers blogger and owner of JOBHUNTERCOACH, recommends including these three elements in your LinkedIn introduction:
1. How you know or found the person you’re inviting.
2. Explain why you want to connect with him or her.
3. Present your offer of reciprocity.
Email may be a better option for reaching out. Not everyone checks LinkedIn but you do know they will be checking email.
Keep In Touch
Once you’ve connected or met with someone, keep in touch.
Serving as a conduit of information is one way you can maintain your relationships. Plan on sending your new networking contact an interesting article or send congratulations along when you hear about their company’s news. Your goal is to reach out at least once every quarter. You’re nurturing your relationship and staying top of mind.
To see more ideas on how to stay top of mind, read this: Nurture Your Network with These 11 Ideas
The bottom line
It is the strength of your relationships that will help you learn about future opportunities and meet new contacts in your career field.