If you shudder at the thought of introducing yourself to a roomful of people you’ve never met, remember that the connection that leads to your Dream Job might be in that room and it’s your mission to find them! But first let’s talk about how to get in the room…
Locating networking events in your industry is as easy as running a simple Internet search for “networking (insert city here)” or by researching websites such as meetup.com, eventful.com, and Linkedin. Alumni groups are also great places to network since attendees share common bonds in their alma mater, area of study, or job industry, and many schools have easy-to-find alumni pages with event calendars, so consider that as well.
Once you’ve identified your networking goals, spend some time developing your plan of attack – how you will introduce yourself, share your goals, and connect with others that are willing to promote you to their network. Then follow these tips and watch your professional network grow:
- Prepare your “elevator speech.” Attendees will likely be meeting a lot of professionals in a short time, and you want them to remember you! Create a 30-second personal introduction telling new connections your name, what your career goals are, and a fun memorable fact about yourself. Then, ask your new friend and potential business connection to share their story.
- Set a goal for the event. Challenge yourself to leave with at least five network connections in your industry, 10 business cards, or an appointment to meet up for coffee. Setting and reaching even small networking goals can feel like a big win – especially if networking is normally out of your comfort zone.
- Don’t count anyone out. Networking is not just about whom you know, it’s about who they know – and they may be linked to the job recruiter or manager who hires you into your next Dream Job.
- Do what you say you will do. If you offer to make a professional connection for someone, follow through on it. Strong business networks can make even a large city seem small, and your personal reputation depends on the relationships you build in the community. Helping others reach their career goals will not only make you feel good and well connected, but will also compel others to reciprocate!
- Stick with it. If one professional meet up is not a success, don’t give up. Sure, you could make “the” connection at your first event, but building strong relationships takes time and networking is a long-term process. Even if you land a job at a great company, continue to attend events to build your personal network of promoters, recruiters, and friends
Want to learn more about networking? Check out my earlier posts in the Snag Your Dream Job Series: Work a Job Fair Like a Pro, and Schwabbie’s Networking Tips that Work.
About the author: Shannon Grimes is a Phoenix-based talent attraction manager for Schwab whose work focuses on connecting with job seekers at networking events, information sessions and career fairs.
Article reposted with permission from the author.