When trying to advance in your career, you know you need a resume with an outstanding format that showcases your proficiencies and achievements. However, do you know how to network? A 2016 LinkedIn survey found that jobseekers obtained 85% of jobs through networking. You may have an excellent resume, but to increase your chances of finding new job prospects, you need to know relevant networking techniques for 2018.
A 2016 LinkedIn survey found that jobseekers obtained 85% of jobs through networking.
If you are out of practice or are unsure of how networking has evolved since society’s progression into the digital age, then keep reading. We’ll show you the best tactics for initiating and building professional relationships with people in your field and explain how to get the most out of every networking event you attend.
How to Network
Before the Event
What you do before a networking event is just as important as what you do during and after the event. “Planning is key,” declares Jacob Hanson, a seasoned recruiter who has worked for agencies across the country. “Preparing yourself helps you go into the event with direction and confidence.”
To prepare yourself, you first need to set realistic goals and expectations, such as connecting with five new people or finding one new job opportunity. Use the online tools at your disposal as well. Do you follow social media accounts of specific people in your field who will attend the event? If there is someone you particularly want to meet, make that encounter a priority. When you know exactly what you wish to gain, you have a better understanding of how to network at the event.
Planning is key
Next, practice as if you were going to a job interview. “You don’t want to sound too rigid or rehearsed,” Hanson says. “However, it is a good idea to know what you want to communicate about yourself.” If you are afraid of an awkward lull in a conversation, Hanson advocates having a few questions on hand to engage people more. This not only keeps the conversation flowing but also shows your interest in learning more about people.
Consider using these questions during strained silences.
How did you hear about this event?
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Have you read any good books lately?
As you pack for the event, remember to set aside more than enough business cards. Protect them with a case and keep them somewhere you can access easily.
Finally, polish your appearance. Don professional and appropriate attire. For most of you, that means business casual. Look at pictures from past events to see what other people wear. Unless you just got a manicure, trim and file your nails so that you can shake hands with ease.
During the Event
Feeling anxious as a networking event approaches? “It is perfectly normal to be nervous and unsure about how to network at an event,” Hanson assures. However, there are many ways to calm your nerves and network intelligently.
When you arrive, find a good location. Hanson recommends standing near the bar or refreshment station and striking up a conversation with someone checking out the goods. This is much more effective (and polite) than immediately inserting yourself in the middle of someone else’s conversation. Don’t worry if you don’t find someone to converse with right away. “Take a few breaths,” Hanson says. “Face the room and look approachable.”
Watch your body language when you converse. Look directly at people and angle your body towards them as you talk. Remember people’s names and show interest in each conversation. “When learning how to network, many people mistakenly think they should hurry from one person to the next,” Hanson states. “Try to have memorable interactions with a few instead of shallow and rushed conversations with many.”
Try to have memorable interactions with a few instead of shallow and rushed conversations with many.
Allow others to speak first and listen carefully to what they say. How do your goals, work assignments, and interests relate to theirs? If you point out similarities or make yourself seem intriguing to others, they are more likely to remember you. There is, however, a risk of taking this technique too far. “Above all, be authentic.” Hanson urges. “People know when you are insincere.”
Step away from the crowd after talking to people to subtly take notes, as this will help you determine how to follow through after the event. Jot down your thoughts on your phone as soon as possible so you do not forget important details.
“If someone seems like a very promising connection, step out of the room or go to the restroom,” Hanson advises. “Take your time, recall as much as you can about the conversation, and write it all down. You will be grateful you did this.”
After the Event
The hardest part—the event itself—is over. You met interesting people and had successful introductory conversations. Now, it is time to cement the connections. “Following up is just as important as those initial conversations,” Hanson declares. “To make all your hard work during the event worthwhile, you need to know how to network with these people once the event is over.”
Within a few days after the event, send follow-up emails to every person you spoke to for more than a few minutes. You might doubt if one person can benefit your career, or you may think another person forgot about your interaction at the event. Follow-up anyway. “Explore all possibilities to avoid future regret,” encourages Hanson. “You never know what might come of it.”
When you send your follow-up email, make it personal. “Remember those notes you took about each person? Now is the time to use them,” suggests Hanson. Mention a topic that arose in your conversation, thank them for talking to you, and ask to connect on LinkedIn or other social media platforms if it seems appropriate to do so.
Following up is just as important as those initial conversations.
Rather than immediately asking for a referral or their assistance in finding you a new job, show people why a professional relationship with you is advantageous. If you have skills, other contacts, or information that might help them in some way, share with them. “If you want to know how to network successfully, this is key,” Hanson conveys. “If you benefit others first, they are much more likely to return the favor in the future.”
Keep in mind that even in today’s digital age, face-to-face interactions are very valuable. Ask people to meet with you for an informational interview. If they agree to a meeting, then you’ll start a new preparation process all over again!
Ready to Network?
Networking events may seem intimidating, especially if you are out of practice. However, with the right guidelines, you can navigate any event effectively. If you know how to network in person and on online platforms, you are much more likely to gain new job opportunities.
To take advantage of those job prospects, you need an impressive resume. Use our exceptional resume templates to create a document tailored to your specific industry. For even more help, turn to our professional resume builder to create a standout document in a few quick steps.