Unfortunately the days of simply submitting a job application and waiting for the call to interview may be over. Many recruiters and hiring experts say job seekers in today’s market need to look at other ways to get their foot in the door, and the best way to do so is by leveraging their professional networks. However, networks don’t grow on trees, job seekers need to actively get out there and engage in networking events and the like to create and maintain long lasting professional connections.
Our experts gave us their top three steps to make the most of your next networking event:
Have a purpose and a direction.
Our experts strongly advise against going into a networking event expecting to wing it. Instead, they advise researching the event beforehand to set preliminary goals. Jason Swett, CEO and Founder of salon scheduling software, Snip Salon Software, recommends you “decide in advance what you’re trying to get out of the networking event. Are you hoping to make inroads with one particular company to get a job there? Are you simply trying to meet as many people as possible?” Successful networkers have an agenda. They know what they want to get accomplished and which key individuals will help them get there.
Make quality connections.
“Too many people treat a networking event like someone who just signed up for Facebook. They immediately want to add 1,500 friends who in the end will remain strangers. Instead, you want to find someone who can help you build a genuine conversation,” states Peter Vanderbilt, hiring manager forPopCause, a video production and entertainment firm. Vanderbilt says that oftentimes job seekers forget that networking is not about selling, it is about connecting. “It’s better to initiate a career-long connection with one or two people at a networking event than it is to pass out business cards to 50 strangers you’ll never speak to again,” Swett explains. In networking, quality always trumps quantity.
Be engaging and ask open ended questions.
Don’t forget – your job at a networking event is to facilitate a two way conversation. Dana Case, director of operations for MyCorporation.com, a leading provider of online document filing services, says “The best connections made at networking events are ones that stem from an authentic yearning to work with one another. If a potential employer or contact is interested in you as a person, they will certainly be interested in working with you on a business level.” Case says the key to having a meaningful conversation is to ask open-ended questions that invite the other person to engage with you. Thom Singer, director of training for Davis / Hill Solutions, business training and development firm stresses that networking is not a verb. “You do not ‘go network’. You have to be engaged in a community for people to want to be a resource for you,” Singer comments. Ask questions, listen intently and provide thoughtful responses. “Try to connect with their background and interests when and where appropriate. The more you learn about someone the greater the opportunity to build rapport and a lasting connection. It’s not about selling you or your product, it’s about building relationships and your network,” explains Susan Solovic, published author and small business consultant.
Stay tuned for more networking tips!
The Team at AllCountyJobs.com