We recently received the following question from one of our CareerHMO.com members and wanted to share it with our readers.
“In spite of the overwhelming amount of evidence that points to networking as the number one way to get a job, as well as all the free advice out there on how to network properly – most job seekers are doing a miserable job connecting with people that can help them find a new position. Please share the single biggest mistake you have seen a job seeker make networking this year.”
We reached out to a community of career experts and asked for their advice and stories. Here are the top three responses:
Mistake: Arriving Late at Events
[Advice by Jill C. Pearson | www.pearsonpartnersintl.com]
We always advise our clients to arrive early to networking functions. We had one client in particular who complained that he never got much value from networking events. In further probing, we found out that he consistently arrived toward the end of events, just to “make an appearance.” For busy executives, especially when in a transition and actively interviewing, it’s tempting to show up at networking events late (especially since so many of them begin at 5:00 or 5:30.) But if you arrive early, even before the event starts, the odds of you getting one-on-one time with a high level speaker or attendee of the event are much greater. Usually the speaker tends to arrive a few minutes before the event starts to get set up. You have a great chance to get some quality time with that person if you’re one of only a few people in the room – rather than towards the end of the event when it’s crowded and the speaker has likely moved on to another event.
At the next event our client attended, he took our advice and arrived 20 minutes before the event started. Ordering a bottle of water at the bar, he chatted with a man who turned out to be the keynote speaker, an influential CEO in our client’s industry. They talked, went to a table and continued their talk, and arranged for a meeting the following week. That’s a productive networking event.
Mistake: Not Embracing Focus
[Advice by Hillary O’Keefe | www.onwardsearch.com]
I recently heard a story about a professional who suspected his job was being eliminated. With the fear of unemployment looming, he began to carelessly send e-mails to almost all his professional contacts. One e-mail in particular was sent to a contact list and was intended to be a blind-copy message to only a specific group of contacts. Unfortunately for this professional, that wasn’t the case. The e-mail arrived in a majority of his contacts inboxes with a fully visible bulk address list. Not only did this reveal the private addresses of numerous C-level decision makers, it undermined his sales efforts by throwing a large portion of his pipeline out into the open. The results were damaging on both personal and professional levels.
The lesson here, and the single most important element of networking that job seekers must embrace, is focus. Successful networking during a job search requires focus, not impersonal or blanket gestures. The strongest, most supportive professional networks are built upon relationships, not just connections. It is impossible to build relationships without focusing on individuals, which includes reaching out to offer help, not just ask for it, as well as demonstrating a interest in them as a person. Treating the members of your network as a collection of contacts is not the way to network successfully.
Mistake: Not Being Clear During Outreach Efforts
[Advice by Caroline Ceniza-Levine | www.sixfigurestart.com]
I had a friend in transition, who I absolutely wanted to help, and he contacted me in LinkedIn with the request of: “If you know of anyone I should connect to, please introduce me.” That’s too vague, and therefore too much work for me!
As a former recruiter I have thousands of connections. Most importantly, it cedes control of the networking strategy away from him and towards me. Instead, he should have looked at my connections, picked specific people he wanted to connect to, written up a compelling introductory note, so all I would need to do is add my personal intro and forward. Don’t make your network do the thinking or the legwork for you! Eventually, he did ask for a specific introduction, and I was happy to give that to him. But I wasn’t going to do his search for him.