Thoughts on starting companies, leadership, networking and technology.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

5 Networking Tips

Over 90% of all jobs are found through networking. That’s right, over 90%. Don’t believe me? How did you find out about your current job? Did someone in the company know you? Did one of your friends or colleagues tell you about the job? In all likelihood one or more of these things occurred. Four years ago I co-founded and led as the CEO an event production company called The Layoff Lounge. We produced more than 150 events for job seekers, recruiters and hiring companies. There are some steadfast rules to networking that I saw employed in these settings and have shown remarkable results. Here are five tips for networking effectively:

1. Get Out There. Whatever it is you’re trying to network for…a job, more sales, or even a soul mate…you have to get out there to be seen and grow your network so that you can assist others and they can assist you. Find all of the events in your area related to your target and get involved with them. You are guaranteed not to meet anyone sitting at home watching television! This is the first step to successful networking.

2. Listen. Networking isn’t about telling others what they can do for you. You need to listen carefully in order to figure out the best way to help someone else. By helping someone else, you’re actually helping two people – both the people you are connecting. And guess what, they’ll feel indebted to you for the assistance and you’ll be at the forefront of their mind.

3. Focus. Don’t try and tell everyone your life story! Boring… Before any networking function you attend, determine what exactly it is you want to accomplish. Make an actual list of the 2-3 things you want to accomplish and stay focused on them during the event. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you should ignore a great opportunity if it presents itself but wasn’t on the list. If you really focus like a single rifle shot, you’ll find that you will have much better luck and be more productive networking than when you go into the event with no plan and a shotgun spray approach.

4. Follow Through. If you say you’re going to help someone by connecting them to someone with a potential job or someone with a shared interest, do it. If you say you are going to call them before Thursday, do it. Otherwise, don’t say it. The worst thing you can do is offer to help and then renege. This network that you let down is the one that is supposed to help you when you need it. If you don’t perform, they’ll see that and never connect you with something you need.

5. Use Technology. There are various networking sites that allow you to search you very own network more effectively than trying to remember everyone you know. My favorite is LinkedIn because it is easy to use and has always provided me with great contacts. Regardless of which one you use, get online and create your profile so that others can find you. Make sure you are accurate and you keep it up to date.

Good luck networking!


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