6 Tips for Working the Room at a Networking Event

Social Media TagsWhile social media has changed the landscape of personal networking nothing  is better than face to face contact.  Conducting  a job search based exclusively on job boards, LinkedIn and other social media actually
will reduce your chances of finding that job.

 

Move Beyond The Computer

You can’t hide behind your computer screen anymore. Now is the time to build your network’s size and effectiveness by getting out and meeting new people face to face. According to Harvard Business School, between 65 percent to 85 percent of all jobs are filled because someone knows someone else. Turn off your computer and get “out there.”

Find A Networking Event

Many professional organizations, common interest groups, companies and colleges run events clearly marketed as opportunities for networking. Scan your local newspaper or business journal, LinkedIn groups or Meetup.com to find them. Or simply run this Google search: “‘networking event’ AND ‘[insert your city]'” and tweak it to fit your needs.

Get Comfortable Networking  

Some people feel like a fish out of water in a room filled with strangers. If you are like this, just remember that all those other people are there because they are just like you: they want to meet new people and build new relationships. You might know something that they would value. You might be the answer to another networker’s needs.

Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM.  Annie and her coaches are super at helping mid-career job-hunters land their next job.  She has come up with a list of 6 Tips for “Working”   a room full of other networkers; allowing you to get the most out of your next networking event.

1. Be Your Real Self

Of course you’ve created your perfect branding statement and elevator pitch. You have it down pat, ready to recite at a moment’s notice. And you’re anxious to share it with anyone who will listen. But be careful not to launch into a nonstop monologue lest you come off sounding either robotic or like an MP3 player without a pause button.

Stay in the moment and observe carefully what kind of reception you’re getting. Pay attention to the eyes and body language of the person with whom you are speaking. Does the person you are with want to break in and ask a question or respond? Be prepared to share your story, but also be nimble enough to abbreviate or adapt it to suit the circumstance.

 2. Be Subtle

Most people like to help others. At the same time, you are quite likely to turn people off if you come off as a nonstop commercial touting yourself. Blatant self-promotion makes the networking experience all about selling you, like a TV infomercial, rather than all about building a personal relationship with another person.

3. Be Attentive

Networking is about active listening to learn about other people. Ask about how they got to where they are today, their accomplishments, current situation, challenges and needs. When you pose these kinds of questions, you will likely get strong cues about how you can best relate to your new acquaintance. You will learn what knowledge or experiences you can share that would be appreciated, what connections you can help establish, and how you can be a valuable networking partner. When you make the effort to assist someone else, they will be much more motivated to hear about you and how they can be of assistance.

4. Be Focused and Brief

When you are at an event, focus intently on the person with whom you are speaking rather than letting your eyes wander the room to see other potential targets. At the same time, recognize that networking situations are generally not the right venue for extended conversations. When there is a natural break, make sure to exchange cards and ask when it might be convenient to follow up or go into greater detail. Then go on to the next person. And of course, do follow up.

5. Be Positive

Networking events are not for venting. No matter how jaded or jilted you might feel about a past employer, boss or co-worker, keep your negative thoughts to yourself. Every time you denigrate someone else, you cause your listener to wonder if you did something to bring your woes upon yourself. It is easy to become viewed as someone unable to shake the past, rather than as someone who is potentially a valuable asset for the future. Don’t take time away from establishing a healthy relationship with a new person by burdening them with negativity.

6. Be Well Mannered

Don’t monopolize the conversation. Don’t text or check your phone for email when you should be interacting with others or listening to an event speaker. Be respectful of other people’s precious networking time. Recognize that they too want to work the room. Don’t let yourself become perceived as a desperate hanger on who can’t be brushed off easily.

You can use networking events for multiple purposes: to gain information about what’s going on in your field or industry, to catch up with fellow alumni, to gain new acquaintances and to move your job hunt forward. Rather than being afraid of participating in networking events, it is well worth your time to make them a part of your regular routine. If you attend with a positive, pay it forward attitude, you will surely be viewed as the admirable professional that you are, and you will earn the respect and trust of others.

Happy Networking

Marben Bland is a Writer, Speaker and Strategist focused on working with emerging biotech and high tech companies. He writes the weekly How to be a LinkedIn Ninja blog, in addition to the Weekly Job Report and the Friday Commentary blog.  A popular speaker at trade shows and seminars Marben is available for strategic consulting engagements or speaking at your next event; give him a call today at 608.358.1309

Comment on this post at marben@marbenband.com .

 

 

5 Ways to Power-Up Your Networking in 2013

Finding a job in today’s economy can be tough, but there are opportunities if you know where to look. And the best way to find these opportunities is not through online job boards, the classifieds, or employment agencies– they are found by networking.  A survey from the top end job search site ExecuNet reveals that 80% of all jobs are obtained via networking.

Hesitant Networkers

Unfortunately, many job seekers are hesitant to take advantage of networking because they’re afraid of being seen as pushy, annoying, or self-serving.  But networking isn’t about using other people or aggressively promoting yourself—it’s about building relationships. Tapping the hidden job market will take more planning and nerve than searching online, but it’s much more effective. Adopting a networking lifestyle—a lifestyle of connecting and helping others in good times and bad—will help you find the right job, make valuable connections in your chosen field, and stay focused and motivated during your job search.  Power-up your 2013 networking with these 5 tips from some of the best networkers I know.

Tip One: Figure out what you want before you start networking

Networking is most effective when you have specific employer targets and career goals. It’s hard to get leads with a generic “Let me know if you hear of anything” request. You may think that you’ll have better job luck if you leave yourself open to all the possibilities, but the reality is this “openness” creates a black hole that sucks all of the networking potential out of the connection.  A generic networking request for a job is worse than no request at all, because you can lose that networking contact and opportunity.  Asking for specific information, leads, or an interview is much more focused and easier for the networking source. If you’re having trouble focusing your job search, you can turn to close friends and family members for help, but avoid contacting more distant people in your network until you’ve set clear goals.

 Tip Two: Want to expand your network? —- Reach out to the people you already know

You may think that you don’t know anyone who can help you with your job search. But you know more people than you think, and there’s a very good chance that at least a few of these people know someone who can give you career advice or point you to a job opening. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Tip Three: Make a list of the people you know

Your network is bigger than you think it is. It includes all of your family members, friends, of neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. Start writing down names and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the list grows. Think about people you know from former jobs, high school and college, church, your child’s school, the gym, social media, or your neighborhood. Also think about people you’ve met through your close connections: your sister’s co-worker; your best friend’s boss; your college roommate’s spouse; friends of your parents; your uncle’s business partner. Don’t forget to include people like your doctor, landlord, accountant, dry cleaner, or yoga instructor…..Yes, you do have a job network, and it’s more powerful than you think.

Tip Four: Reach out to your network

All the connections in the world won’t help you find a job if no one knows about your situation. Once you’ve drawn up your list, start making contact with the people in your network. Let them know that you’re looking for a job. Be specific about what kind of work you’re looking for and ask them if they have any information or know anyone in a relevant field. Don’t assume that certain people won’t be able to help. You may be surprised by who they know.

Tip Five: Improve your communication skills

Effective communication is a cornerstone of job networking. As simple as communication may seem, much of what we try to communicate—and others try to communicate to us—gets misunderstood. Effective communication combines a set of learned skills, such as: attentive listening, recognizing and using nonverbal cues, managing stress in the moment, and understanding your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with. Toastmasters is the best place I know of where you can both enhance your communication skills and build a network.  Go to www.Toastmasters.org to find a club near you.

The Bottom Line: Focus on building relationships

Networking is a give-and-take process that involves making connections, sharing information, and asking questions. It’s a way of relating to others, not a technique for getting a job or a favor. You don’t have to hand out your business cards on street corners, cold call everyone on your contact list, or work a room of strangers. All you have to do is reach out. It may take a while but having a networking mindset will pay off.   Good luck with your 2013 networking efforts.