Top 10 Secrets to Turn Networking Pain
to Career Gain
By Wendy J. Terwelp, CCMC, JCTC, CPBS
It's not what you know; it's who you know that gets you hired. We’ve all heard this phrase so many times our ears are bleeding, right? Here are the facts: more than 70% of people land new jobs through networking. With that in mind, here are 10 secrets to help turn your networking pain into career gain:
- Know yourself and your personal brand: Are you hip, trendy, and cool? If you are, then the networking group you join should match your style and your attitude. Sure, you want to meet different types of people to successfully manage your career, but you also want them to “get you.” And you want them to be fun to work with, right?
- Know what you want: when you attend a networking event, what is it you want from the event? Contacts? Referrals? Ideas? Notice I didn’t say “job.” Unless of course you’re networking at a job fair. The goal for networking is to create relationships that can help you propel your career in the direction of your overall goals.
- Know what you bring to the table that no one else does what makes you or your qualifications unique among your competitors? “I’m a people person” is not a unique skill set.
- Know your audience: who needs to know about you to help you reach your goals? Does this networking organization serve your audience? Does it have members who are your audience? If not, it’s probably not the group for you. What groups should you join? Join at least three types groups. 1) A peer group for brainstorming, education, commiserating, and more importantly for creating referral or alliance partners; 2) Prospects: a group that is your ideal target market or knows your ideal target market. (In my case, I network with professional staffing organizations such as the Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services. They know people who are in job search mode.); 3) professional business group or leads group. Hiring decision-makers often Google your name before meeting with you. A professional organization can boost your online presence.
- Know that the more you give, the more you get. It’s not all about you.
- Know how to start a conversation. Develop at least 3 open-ended questions you can ask a person in your new networking group. And it’s not: “Hey, know anyone who’s hiring?”
- If you’re shy, know that it’s A-OK to team up with a friend to attend events and meet new people. Networking becomes much easier when you can introduce your friend as well as yourself when meeting new people.
- Know when a group’s a great fit for your career or business and when it is not. When you think about writing off a group, you want to think about how profitable the group is for you. And I don’t necessarily mean in terms of revenue. With some groups you’ll know after the first meeting it’s not a good fit; others take time to gel. For example, if you’re active in the group and meeting the right people, it may be a good fit. The goal is not to collect business cards; the goal is to build relationships that grow with you, your career, and your business. It comes down to this, if you are not building relationships in the group, and you’re just going for the food, it’s not a good fit. Follow up on those business cards.
- Know that in order to make the most of a group you’ve got to take an active role. Networking is more than just showing up. Joining a networking group is a commitment.
- Know that networking is simply having a conversation with friends. Following these steps takes away the pain for your career gain.
Keep in mind, networking is a two-way street. A good networker gives to their network, maintains their network, and builds a positive, ongoing business relationship. Enjoy building your network and taking your career to the next level.
© 2006 - 2010 • Wendy J. Terwelp • Wendy Terwelp is president of Opportunity Knocks™, a career management and personal branding firm in Wisconsin that helps you get hired faster. Learn how to rebuild your network 5 minutes a day with Wendy’s upcoming teleclass, “Rebuilding Your Network for 5 Minutes a Day.” To learn more, email Wendy at WendyTerwelp@knocks.com