A meeting, a conference or a happenstance are golden opportunities to get your name in front of influential individuals (even friends and family) who can make a difference in your career. You never know when the next person you meet can assist you in your employment goals. When you are in job searching mode, every minute of every day is an opportunity to impress and if you are to achieve optimal levels of exposure here are a few suggestions for you to consider:
* Never leave home without your business cards. Those gainfully employed have business cards, why shouldn’t those in search mode have them as well. Personalized business cards that include all pertinent information including LinkedIn Profile address is a must. Make sure you always receive a business card in return and be generous in distributing them almost everywhere to almost everyone. They are the cheapest approach to getting your name out in front of influencers.
* It Is Show Time. Networking is an important element of selling. Why would anyone want to buy a product or service from a grouchy, pouty salesperson? When you are in the job search mode you must be up for the occasion! A professionally happy face is the picture you want to present in a networking environment. Leave your troubles at home and if anyone asks about your last job, always speak positively about your former employers. No personal or personnel bashing is ever appropriate, even those who will not share it to the rest of the world.
* Listening Is Just As Important As Talking. Have you ever been to a reception or a party and found yourself talking to a contact that continually looks around the room for “more influential” people to talk to? A one on one discussion is just that – keep eye contact with the other person and don’t survey the room for your next stop. Besides the fact that it is rude, listening for what is being said is something that can assist you in the future. This contact may not be of immediate assistance but somewhere down the line he/she can certainly provide some insight and assistance.
* Be a Giver and Not Just a Taker. Communication is a two-way street and and the secret to a long lasting relationship is that you must give before you take. If an interaction is just one of you asking for help and not providing any insights on issues that may be of value to the other person, one will soon determine that this relationship won’t last very long. When you are generous with your observations and insights – people will notice. Respect is something you need to develop and build over time, what better way to create such an image as to be a giving individual right from the start.
* Watch the Schmoozing. You need to be genuine and not play the part of someone you are not. People can determine really fast if you are not for real. Embellishments, exaggerations and downright lies are not appropriate for these kind of conversations. Be also very careful that you don’t partake in “one upmanship.” No one really is successful in such games. Make sure you portray interest in what is being said – never be more concerned about being interesting than showing your interest in the conversation.
* Follow Up. Make sure that as soon as you get home or back to the office that you put the individuals into your contact list while they still are fresh in your mind. If you have a personal CRM or Salesforce software program – use it for these new contacts. Within a few days make sure you also send an e-mail detailing what a privilege it was to spend time together at the event and offering your assistance in the future. Remember – this is a long term relationship. Include all your pertinent contact information just in case they lost your business card. I have a digital copy of my business card which I include in all e-mails. I would also provide links to my LinkedIn Profile and invite them to be your Facebook friend and LinkedIn connection.
Networking never ends when you are in the job search mode. You never know who next will be able to assist you somewhere down the road. Your ultimate goal is a new employment home and with the assistance of those you meet along the way that achievement may come to pass sooner than you think.