Written by Jacqui Mills, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Don Mills
Networking is all about making connections, meeting and building relationships with people who can help your career, but networking is not just for job seekers. While it is probably the best way to find a new job, networking is also critical for career movement and progress. Although most of networking takes place online these days, it’s still important to attend events and do face-to-face networking.
Here are some tips for successful networking:
Be Bold – Go alone! Although you might feel more comfortable at an event or function when you’re with colleagues, it can be inhibiting. If you attend alone, you’re more likely to branch out and meet more people. Also, people on their own are more approachable to others.
Know Your Goals – Once you’ve mustered the courage to attend an event, make sure you make the most of it. Before it starts, set some goals for the evening and be prepared; try something more specific like speaking to three potential new professional contacts or to someone from a particular organization. Think about who are some ideal contacts for you. Set clear measurable goals.
Arrive Early – Many people arrive just at the start of an event, or even late. Don’t be that person. When you arrive early you get to meet the host, the speaker and other attendees who arrive early as well. The conversations are less rushed, so you have the opportunity for better connection.
Initiate The Hand Shake – Try to make a habit of shaking hands when there’s a name exchange. It’s important to stamp your impression with a handshake. It’s a physical anchor that will help you be remembered and is a great way to build comfort/rapport. Pay special attention to your body language. Practice open body language, make eye contact and try not to fold your arm. Try to appear approachable, friendly and ready to engage.
Play to Your Strengths – If you are an introvert (tips for introverts at networking events), and you see someone standing alone, chances are the other person is an introvert as well. Approach the person and introduce yourself. The other person will appreciate the gesture. Ask questions and listen to the answers, this is something introverts are good at. If you are an extrovert and you see the introvert standing alone, approach them and introduce yourself, then introduce the person to others. This way to get to meet others while helping another person.
Exit Conversations Gracefully – You have a goal for attending an event. If you find yourself in a conversation that’s going on and on, excuse yourself politely. Say it was nice to meet the person, exchange contact information and move on.
Need more help preparing and networking? Check out our monthly calendars to see upcoming events and workshops, and register at one of our 7 GTA locations. From one-on-one sessions to group workshops, our knowledgeable staff can help with your job search needs. All services are FREE!