In one of my earlier blogs, I offered some ideas on how and where to begin building your network. Let us continue to explore networking as a key component to your job hunt strategy. If you signed up for my newsletter, then you already know that a common thread that runs through the 5 best ways to find a job is networking, whereas a theme present in the 5 worst ways is really trying to do it all in a cocoon, by yourself.
I should note that there is nothing wrong with trying to do something yourself. After all, the high point of personal, self discipline is independence. But, I like Dr. Covey's concept that "interdependence" is the next level beyond independence. "Interdependence" is synergy in action and application. This is networking. It is using and contributing to each other's success. It is the win-win scenario. Networking!
And as discussed in the previous blog, it is all about knowing how to network properly. Because it means face to face networking. In today's environment of LinkedIn and Facebook, etc., sometimes we forget that the fundamental principle is face to face. Sure it might be more comfortable doing it online where our body language and tone of voice are not being evaluated, but you miss out on the huge opportunity that comes from shaking hands and connecting on deeper, more personal level.
Yes, face to face, but it is also important to understand the networking venue in which you find yourself. In other words, know the etiquette and dress codes that are the unspoken standards for the environment you want to be a part of. It may be okay to wear a pair of jeans and a sports jacket to a casual get-together type, evening networking club, but to a Chamber of Commerce meeting, you will probably need to wear a more business like attire. Pay just as much attention to your dress for these networking opportunities as you do for any interviews that you attend. Why? Because you may very well be meeting your future employer at these meetings.
Be an active member in the organizations in which you attend. Go to every meeting with the goal of meeting new people and initiating new contacts. This is particularly important. And, you will find, if you do not already know, that the rules for networking at these meetings spill over to networking at the barbershop, at library or any other public place.
Remember to always carry contact information with you. If you do not have a current business card then have them made. There are several places that will do 250 business cards free of charge when you pay for shipping and handling. Vista Print is one online store that provides this service. Or use something like Microsoft Publisher and make your own.
Be creative on these cards so that you are memorable. They should be formatted to the standard landscape orientation and should be of standard size. Why? Make it easy on the people you give it to. The last thing you want is for someone to try and put your card in their wallet, find it is too big and tosses it. A standard size business card. It is what is on it that matters, not the weird size or shape of it. And yet, some will continue to think different is better. And lastly, they irritate some people who find this type of creativity bothersome.
But if you are a creativity person, let your creativity be evident in the content and the artwork on the card. If your field is design or art related, then let that shine through in your card. As for the nitty gritty, content should not only include the standard contact information such as phone, address, email and fax but also consider including a mission statement, list of accomplishments or quotation that communicates your business perspective and goals. In other words, it is not a business card; it is really a calling card to remember you by. Obviously, only so much you can put on a business card - use both sides!
When you approach people, be yourself. To state the obvious, but business people do react best to individuals who have personality and the confidence to be themselves. Unless being you means getting drunk and dancing on the tables then do not be yourself. Pretend you are a bold, visionary entrepreneur instead. Or rethink your career choice or your desire to communicate everything about who you are to anyone who cares to listen. Okay.
Good managers and companies recognize that creative, innovative and strong leaders have a personality and are not drones. Do not be a drone.
When you are talking with people you have just met, share a story, a kind word or suggestion that makes you memorable. Whether interacting at these networking meetings, socializing at the gym or meeting at the library we all meet more people than we can remember. Make yourself memorable by telling that interesting story or offering helpful suggestions.
You can improve your chances of being remembered if you approach someone with what you can do for them and not what they can do for you. Remember that old expression that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? It holds true here too. Give something to someone and they are likely to want to reciprocate and that can lead to a job interview or introduction.
Point that I am hammering away at is, be memorable, but memorable for all the right reasons. Mentioned earlier, but the people you network with may well be looking at you and subconsciously evaluating you as a potential workmate or employee - heck, it could be a conscious evaluation, even better.
Lastly, to reiterate, always be mindful that it is a give and take. Synergy means you must also contribute to the networking efforts of other. It is the ultimate, "scratch your back, scratch my back." Did you notice the wording; "scratch your back" came first. Good Luck.
H. Kim has been up and down the corporate ladder so much, he's on first name basis with each rung. Which is a good thing, because it lets him use all the successes, and more importantly, the mistakes, he's made in his blog, "Landing On Your Feet: A Help You Find a Job Blog." Strategies, Tips and Advice, a few laughs and a couple of words of wisdom are all it is. Visit him today at http://www.LandingOnYourFeet.com.