The days of swapping business cards to get ahead are over. Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew share their top tips about using your network to make lasting connections.
In part 1 Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew discussed the old and new rules of networking, building your network, and being pitch-ready. In the last of our two-part networking series, the pair discusses setting goals, how to keep the momentum going, and having the confidence to let your network know that you’re looking.
SET NETWORKING GOALS
Pinpoint your reason for being there: having a mission helps you focus and forces you to break out of your comfort zone. If you’re new to networking, your goal might be simply to talk to two or three people to get the lay of the land. Other goals may be: Setting up one informational interview – who can you meet that you’d like to talk to further about a company, industry, or potential job opportunity? Learning something new – Can you take the opportunity to listen to a fascinating speaker or strike up a conversation with someone who writes a great blog? How can this event help you expand your skill set? Meeting three new people who work for companies you’re interested in – the timing may not be right for an informational interview, but it’s always beneficial to swap contact information with people who work at companies that pique your interest, whether you’re actively looking for a job or not.
GAINING MOMENTUM AND KEEPING IT GOING
No one’s going to go out on a limb for someone they spoke to once at a networking event last year. Now that you made it through the event, you can begin the process of turning those one-time connections into real long-term relationships. To do this well, you should stay in touch like it’s part of your job in a way that’s authentic to your personality. Try blocking out time in your schedule each day or week to touch base with people. A few ideas for keeping the momentum going: After you first meet someone, send a friendly email within 48 hours, while you’re still top of mind. Mention something you discussed, or joked about, or share an article they might find interesting. Express a desire to meet up again – either in general or with a specific date and time suggested.
If you met at a recurring event, you can always ask if they’re planning to attend the next one. Follow new connections on Twitter and make following you worth their while (if this is your thing, of course) by keeping your feed current, and full of thought-provoking Tweets and posts. Celebrate their accomplishments. Follow them on LinkedIn and reach out to congratulate them when you see they’ve accomplished something, received a promotion, started a new job, or were featured in the news. Keep them in the loop on what you’re up to, whether that’s sharing a link to a company blog post you wrote or client work you were involved in. And don’t be afraid to get creative! Some people take it up a notch and write email newsletters or digests of relevant industry information (with links to what they’re working on as well) and send it out to their full network. It takes extra effort, but it’s a powerful way to stay in touch.
LET YOUR NETWORK KNOW YOU’RE LOOKING
We can’t stress it enough: Your network is one of the most valuable assets you have in landing your dream job or role. So this step is about how to let your community know that you are currently looking for a job. We get that asking for help can feel uncomfortable, but look at it this way: You’re just asking for intel about jobs people might know of – not asking someone in your network to hire you. There’s a big difference. Remind yourself on a daily basis that you are a valuable asset and that most people want to help you; after all, if someone recommends you for a role in her company and it works out, she comes out looking good! Plus, most people have been in your shoes themselves at some point, so they know how you feel. Sometimes, people in your network are actively hiring themselves, so putting yourself out there benefits you both.
Our next IMAGE Networking Breakfast – Strategies for Success – kicks off at 7.30am on March 31 at The Marker Hotel in Dublin. Hear Kuehne + Nagel’s Pamela Quinn, Startup Dublin’s Niamh Bushnell, and A Career to Love’s Sinéad Brady share their top secrets. For tickets, €45, visit eventbrite.ie. We’ll see you there (and hope you pop over to say hello).
Extracted from The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew (Orion Spring, approx €18), out now.
This article originally appeared in the April issue of IMAGE Magazine.