- Initiate contacts for the sole purpose of networking. Do not just wait to bump into people. The best career self-managers always look to expand their contacts.
- Develop a networking list. Make contact with each person on the list. Add names of people you meet or to whom you are referred. Update the list regularly.
- Set networking goals. Write down specific goals for the number of networking contacts to make each day or each week, and then monitor your performance.
- Set goals for each meeting. Meet with a purpose; don’t just “get together” to see where it leads. Express the goal when you set the meeting.
- Come prepared. Know about the person you’re meeting. Do research. Have a list of questions to ask. While you are talking, take notes.
- Ask for referrals. Ask the person if he or she knows someone else you should meet. Ask permission to use the person’s name when initiating contact.
- Maintain networking files. Keep records of the meeting outcomes and note important information about the person. This will be helpful downstream.
- Meet in person whenever possible. Telephone contacts are sufficient for most networking events, but face time is much more valuable.
- Express appreciation early and often. Let them know you value the information and their professional opinion. Send thanks by email or snail mail.
- Plan the next steps. If you are to follow up, make a note on your calendar. If you agree to do something, be sure to follow through. Set the right tone.
1. People you know well.
This is a good place to begin your networking campaign, because you can ask for the most assistance from this group. However, it is important to set clear goals and expectations. They might want to help more than you want. Remember to acknowledge their value and say “thank you” throughout the process.
2. People you see occasionally.
While you might be less comfortable with these people, they also have the greatest potential value. Ask this group for ideas and referrals. When making contact, you might need to reintroduce yourself. State your purpose, acknowledge their value and request a meeting.
It’s a good idea to set reasonable time limits like 20 or 30 minutes, and be sure to stick to your time limit. Come well prepared and be professional and organized in the discussion. This attitude will generate additional referrals.
3. Referrals from networking contacts.
At this point, most job seekers are out of their comfort zone. Simultaneously, this is where you can find the real action. You are getting closer to that next position or project.
When approaching the referral contact, introduce yourself with a lead statement that will get their attention. If given permission, use the name of the person who referred you. State your purpose clearly and request a meeting.
4. Cold calling people you do not know.
Now, start networking today!