Networking is one of the most essential elements of the job search process, and it is also one of the most difficult parts for most individuals. Networking has one of the least defined processes of job seeking, which makes it difficult to feel confident in each move. Here are a few etiquette guidelines to help you network with confidence.
The first impression you make is very important in networking. When you see the opportunity to meet someone new walk up to them with confidence. One of the most important pieces to a good first impression is eye contact, look them in the eye as you approach and speak with them. Put out your hand and give them a firm handshake. A weak hand shake will give the impression of a lack of confidence. Lastly, be sure and state your full name, when they introduce themselves say their name back to them, “Nice to meet you Mark.” This will make them aware of the fact that you are listening to them, and it will also help you remember their name.
If someone asks you, tell me about yourself,” take this opportunity to give them your elevator pitch. Your answer to this question should be no longer than thirty seconds, and you should think through what you are going to say. Always start with what you want to do, your goal in life. This makes it clear to the individual you are speaking with that you have goals, they may also see an opportunity to get you to your goal. Then you can briefly tell them about what you do or did. Do not recite your resume; be brief and make every word count.
It is a Conversation
You are talking with someone, and you need to be sure you listen to what they are saying. If you are not listening you will not be engaging and interesting during the conversation. The ultimate goal in networking is to build a relationship, not just gain a contact. You cannot build a relationship without listening. When listening get to know what the individual is like and tailor your conversation to them.
Timing is Everything
Pay attention to timing, it is essential. You do not ever want to interrupt someone. Approach an individual at the right time, when there is a lull in conversation not abruptly in the middle of the conversation. This will lend itself to a nice conversational transition that is focused on you. Also consider how long you speak with someone, you do not want to overstay your welcome. Enjoy a nice conversation and then bow out gracefully.
When the event or meeting is over, take the time to follow-up. The relationship will go no further than your first conversation if you do not follow-up. This does not however create an opportunity for you to ask for help. The individual you met does not owe you anything. If you made them aware of your job search and they want to help you, then they will offer.
Ultimately, be yourself and be confident.