Networking is a rite of passage for career professionals, whether employed or unemployed. One of the key things to networking is that it can widen your social capabilities, connect you with prospective clients or future employers, and can lead you to your next opportunities without even realizing it at the time! One of the most important things about networking is being prepared with ideas, topics, and even the right resources.
Whether you are just starting your job search, or you have been job hunting for a while, it should not come as a surprise that networking is a necessary component of your search. I say that knowing full well that for some people, especially those who are just starting out, it is a surprise. Many job hunters mistakenly think that they can be successful by submitting dozens of job applications a day while sitting in front of their computers still in their pajamas. Surely if you are diligent in applying for enough different jobs, something will stick…right? Related: 5 Things You MUST Do During Networking Events That logic would work if it weren’t the case that only 20% of the jobs that are being filled today are being filled by job applications that miraculously make it through the maze of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and land on someone’s desk. It can happen, certainly, but the facts speak for themselves. You limit your possibilities of finding opportunities if you never leave the house. I hate to break it to you, but the Job Fairy isn’t going to come looking for you while you lounge around the house. The hard, cold fact is that to be successful at this job search game, you have to get out of the house, and you have to network. It isn’t enough just to show up at a networking event, however. You must show up prepared to present your “A-game.” You must dress the part; you must be approachable and personable. Dare I say it? You must do your best to be charming and memorable! You need to be prepared to say succinctly what it is that you do in a way that the people with whom you speak will remember you. If they hear of an opening that isn’t a good fit for them but might be a perfect fit for you, you want to have left a positive impression.
Does networking scare you? You're not alone. Related: Top 10 People You Must Have In Your Network To Find A Job Walking into a room of people you don’t know can be intimidating, but with a little preparation, much of that fear can be relieved.
How do you show up at networking events? Are you the person who quickly finds a place to sit, grabs your phone and starts looking intent upon checking your most recent text or email? That is a good way to send the signal, “Hey, I am here at this event, but don’t really want to be, so don’t bother me!” Related: Networking Your Way Into The New Year Or, are you the person who latches on to the first person you recognize and then you hang with them the rest of the evening, hoping that they won’t leave you stranded and all alone? Recognize either of those scenarios? I do. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of both of those behaviors. You see, I am an extreme Introvert. People are always surprised when I tell them that, but it is true. As a result of being an extreme, off the chart Introvert, I truly hate networking events of every stripe, including parties, which are just networking events with a social aspect as opposed to a strictly business purpose. I hate them all. I make myself go to events, however, because I need to let people know what I do. Once there, I have to force myself to put the phone out of sight and look for people I don’t know instead of the familiar faces of those I know already. If you are looking for work or have a job that requires you to develop some semblance of grace and poise in networking situations, you need to develop a more positive attitude toward networking.