Networking hacks part 3 -The networking meeting
So you have put in the time to make the initial contact with people in your network (see Networking Hacks Part 1) and arranged a time to meet. You will want to present your best self so that the person you are meeting feels confident it is worth them spending time to help you. You need to be prepared and present a professional but friendly face. We recommend you dress as if you were attending an interview, and be punctual.
If you have a mutual contact who referred you, mention their name and your connection to them. And open with a recap the purpose of your meeting e.g. get advice, information and contacts.
Give yourself an introduction by outlining briefly (3-4 minutes) your background and experience.
Ask the questions you have prepared. Ensure they are targeted to elicit the type of information you need. While it is important to establish a rapport, this is not a social visit but a business meeting. You may wish to ask your contact about themselves and the career path they followed to get to where they are today.
Outline your strategy from here and seek their input.
You may want to take a copy of your resume, and depending on how comfortable you are with how the meeting went, ask them to briefly review it for relevance to the field. Leave a copy with them.
Ask them if they believe there is any other information they can provide you with that you haven’t covered.
Most importantly ask for the names of people they know who might be a good contact for you to talk with , and make a note of their name and contact phone number. Try to get at least two new contact referrals per meeting as this is the best way to expand your network. Each time you meet with someone, ask if they know of anyone who could assist you with your research. Ask them if they have any other contacts you can speak to. The idea is that your network should develop to consist of people who know people, who know people, who know you. There will always be a link but the number of your contacts will increase and broaden.
By expanding your network and letting as many people as possible know about you and the type of roles you are looking for, the greater the chances are that a job opportunity will result. If it doesn’t you will have still gained great information and expanded your network.
Close the meeting
- Thank them for their time and assistance. Offer to let them know how you get on (which means you must do it!). Let them know how they can contact you in the future.
- Be prepared to return the favour to any of their contacts in the future.
Meeting follow up
Do a review after each networking meeting.
- What did you do well?
- What could be improved for next time?
- Did you ask all the relevant questions?
- Were there any other questions you asked that should be added to your list?
Write detailed notes on all the information you gained during your meeting on the network contact list (Download worksheet) and your research details list. Make a note of any actions resulting from the meeting and follow them up.
It is always a good idea to follow up your meetings with a thank you message via text or email. Not only is this good manners, it further establishes you in their mind as a professional and provides them again with your contact details. Make sure you connect with them on LinkedIn also.
Maintaining your network is important for your job search period and the future so keep in contact with your network regularly and let them know your status. Your contact doesn’t need to be intrusive - You can email, text or share updates, articles or posts on LinkedIn or use LinkedIn messages. If they are in a similar profession sharing articles and posts on LinkedIn is a great way to keep in touch.
If you keep up to date and accurate records of all contact details and meeting notes you will have information you can readily access. And in terms of our definition of networking keeping notes means you can connect with them by letting them know of conferences and webinars in their field or sending an article relevant to a project they were working on. Relationships are built from each small connection we make - and remember our definition of networking?
"Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question 'How can I help?' and not with 'What can I get?' ”
If you would like some more advice on how to build and develop your career network, contact the career coaches at Bravo Careers.