People seem to be afraid of networking. They have many excuses to avoid it.
- We are connected on (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, the Mafia). Why do I actually have to speak with them?
- You want me to what??? Don’t you know I don’t do that!!!
- It will just be a meat market
- In-Person networking doesn’t work!
- I thought people stopped doing that in the last century!
Yet in-person networking remains vibrant today whether you are a small business owner, a job hunter or a member of some affinity group that brings people together.
Attending networking meetings provides increased exposure, knowledge, leads, suggestions and ideas to help you become more effective in your professional life.
The big mistake people make when they think of networking is that they think if they go one time, suddenly, the seas will part, the heavens will open up, their business or job leads will explode and it will be incredible.
Actually, no one expects it to be that way. They expect to attend a meeting and no one will talk to them, they will “hug the wall” and waste their time. And they will be right. After all, who wants to help someone they have met once. Who goes out of their way to help that person?
I will give you a clue. It is either everyone or no one. OK, you figured it out.
A woman I coached started to regularly attend networking meetings for her profession. A reliable senior manager, she felt stuck. “I like going home at the end of the day,”
“Who doesn’t,” I replied. “Your second job is finding a job and in your part of the country, you need to rebuild some of your relationships in order to have someone bring that next job to you. Wouldn’t you rather have that happen than apply online?
Most people hate cold calling. Networking helps to create warm calls out of cold calls. Networking is like breathing is to your living. You can have a career but without it, your career will die off.
Here are 7 things to do before you go to your next networking gathering.
- Bring business cards. If you don’t have them, order them. Don’t make them bland and boring. Let them have some personality.
- When you attend a networking meeting, be prepared to present yourself in 45 seconds TOPS! “My name is Jeff Altman. I coach people and organizations to play BIG and be more successful. I am trying to connect with people or businesses who need an extra set of eyes and ears on their situation—an ally who can help them now and for years to come. Again, my name is Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. Coaching you to play BIG!” 45 seconds.
- Bring a brochure, flyer or resume depending on whether you are arriving as a job hunter or business owner.
- Care about others and what they need. If you are only focused on yourself and your needs, you won’t create a relationship. Instead you will be seen as a taker. People give to people give. Give more; get more. In New York, we used to say people hate mooches.
- Wear a smile on your face and be friendly instead of making sure the wall remains upright. Trust me. The wall will remain upright without you leaning on it.
- Collect business cards from people you meet. Follow up with people after the gathering. “Hi! I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I’m the coach you met the other night at the meeting. Do you have time to speak now or would it be better if we scheduled time on another occasion? I want to get to know you and see how I might be able to help you.” Trust me. Almost everyone knows you will want to be helped, too. When you have the more in-depth conversation, be prepared to talk about who you might want to meet.
- If you decide to join the group, find a way to volunteer. In most cases, volunteering doesn’t take much time and it makes you visible to other members and attendees.
Networking will make a difference throughout your career, particularly when you don’t need to networking. Start meeting people and start getting out and about!
If You Like This Article Read Make Your LinkedIn Network Work For You
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and leadership coaching.
JobSearchCoachingHQ.com offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.
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