Networking for Dummies – 6 Starting Steps
For the third time in my professional career, the company that I held a senior marketing & BD role at was sold. While I look at this as a good thing and an accomplishment, in this case it also brings the added challenge of finding a new opportunity with a new employer. There are many great online resources, job boards and recruitment firms but the best way to get an ‘in’ when job hunting is through direct referrals. This is especially the case in Hong Kong where it is all about who you know. And to get to know people, you need to network.
Now I’m pretty familiar with all sorts of networking scenes at this point and it still surprises me how many people just don’t understand networking. Not just how to network properly but what networking actually is. So I want to lay out some simple insight and tips of how to make the most of this business buzzword.
What is Networking?
Actually, let me better explain by telling you what networking is NOT…
It is not all about you. Networking is about building relationships for the future. Not about asking for something of somebody.
It is not about how many business cards you can hand out. Before you try to shove your details in my hand, pocket, briefcase, etc, at least take the time to talk to me and see what kind of synergy there is. I need to trust you before I buy from you or recommend you to my network.
It is not about asking for a coffee meeting 30 seconds after meeting a person. This is also a follow-up from the previous point. Talk to me and see what it is we could possibly do for each other before you waste my time in a meeting.
It is not only about what we can do for each other. Networking is not about what I can do for you or you for me. It is about what our networks can do for each other.
Now that you have a better understanding of the do’s and don’ts, here’s a little advice from my experience…
- Networking is only one piece of the pie. While I feel it will give you the best chances of landing a new job, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the other avenues such as job boards, recruiting firms and social media. You need to tackle all of them together.
- Networking is not just the face-to-face. In our digital information age, you need to have a digital presence online. This means websites, social media, blogs and one of big ones: LinkedIn. There are fewer things frustrating when after meeting someone, I want to further research a person or business only to find no LinkedIn (or a severely incomplete) profile.
- Dress the part. Who would YOU be more likely to buy something from… a guy in a t-shirt, jeans and sandals or someone in a business shirt, slacks and dress shoes?
- Relax! Think of it as a casual conversation at happy hour (which many networking events are). Think of it as just making new acquaintances. If it happens that you can help each other out, great! If not, perhaps in the future. It is about building and expanding a network, not getting instant help and gratification.
- Bring business cards! It amazes me how many people forget this simple necessity. If you’re currently looking for a job, then make up personal cards so that you have something to exchange when you make a connection.
- Think about the other person. If you go into a conversation only thinking about you and what you can get out of the interaction, it will be a big turn off to the other person and you will lose that opportunity. Always remember to think about what you can do for the other person. The other person will be more likely to reciprocate.
This is just the simple surface. Follow this advice and I am sure you’ll see great results.
Have any extra advice? Leave a comment and let me know what you have found to work well when building your network!