Q: Networking scares me! Do you have any tips to make it easier?
A: Networking can seem intimidating if you think you have to immediately impress each person you meet. However, many experts will tell you the opposite is true and that the way to impress others is to be a good listener. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s important to introduce yourself and leave them with an understanding of what you’re looking for or what you do, but if you’re nervous or a novice networker, you can ask questions to get the conversation going, e.g. “what do you do?” and “tell me more.”
To set yourself up for success, consider networking in the following ways:
Face-to-face networking – Identify events that are related to your industry or the work you do, including networking events, job fairs or industry sessions with guest speakers that may have networking time built in. At live events like these, try to meet as many people as you can. I also recommend having something to leave behind, like a business card, or a resume if you’re at a job fair.
Social media networking – Social media can be a good way to supplement your in-person networking and can be less intimidating in some ways. Once you have a profile on LinkedIn, join groups and discussions on the site. Twitter is another way to identify people you might want to work with and make connections.
Informational job interviews – These types of interviews are more intense, in-depth forms of networking during which you meet with someone at their office or over coffee to talk about the work they do, their career path, the industry they work in and any connections they can make for you. Informational interviews are not tied to specific job openings, but the interviewer may refer you for an opening or think of you when an opening comes up.
Unexpected networking opportunities – Any group of people can offer opportunities for networking; you may meet someone at a family barbeque who is looking to hire a candidate with your exact skill set. Or, more likely, you’ll meet someone on a plane, at a reunion, or in the school pick-up line who knows someone you’d like to network with.
About the Recruiter
Frank Gentile is a 20+ year veteran of the staffing industry and an experienced recruiter. As a Director at Professional Staffing Group (PSG) Frank oversees the permanent placement division.