It’s time to get off the grid.
While countless job search articles focus on the benefits of online social networking, digital connections will only get you so far. When it comes right down to it, personal contact – real face-time – is one of your most powerful networking tools.
In a cutthroat job market, offline socializing can give you a decided advantage over your competition. So whether you are looking to grow your network, influence others or advance your career, use these tips from PrideStaff to make your in-person networking efforts more successful:
Set goals. Consider what you want to accomplish and then develop a plan to get you there. Possible offline networking goals could include:
· Number of events you want to attend
· Number of new business contacts you want to meet
· Number and type of follow-up activities you want to schedule as a result of the first two
Whatever goals you set, write them down – it’s an easy way to hold yourself accountable for achieving them.
Share with purpose. When you go to a conference, meeting or mixer, always arrive with something current and relevant to share. For a few brief moments, you may have the attention of someone who can further your career goals. Make every second count by bringing something intentional to the conversation. Prepare a few talking points that will build your perceived value and authority within your industry. Doing so will take the pressure off when you’re in the spotlight.
Introduce yourself to key influencers. Find out who is responsible for planning the events you attend, as well as who the other influencers are (e.g., association officers, long-time members, speakers, etc.). Introduce yourself and recognize their contributions to the organization. Additionally, ask questions about their experiences within the group and how you can become an established and valued member.
Use your best manners. Smile. Be polite. Shake hands with confidence. Avoid coarse language. Share uplifting news. Do whatever you can to make a positive impression on the people you meet.
Temper your sales pitch. Remember that you’re a person, not a brand. While it’s certainly appropriate to discuss what you do (or would like to do), be careful not to blanket the event with your personal sales pitch or your business cards. The goals of attending a networking event are to be part of key conversations and meet influential people – not merely push your personal agenda.
Follow-up. Whenever you make a new connection – whether or not you think that person will be able to help you – always follow up with a quick email, note or phone call. Besides being mannerly, consistent follow up techniques will help ensure you get the most from your networking efforts. You never know; even seemingly inconsequential introductions could eventually lead to making that one connection you really need.
Seek out new opportunities. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to networking events and association meetings. Make sure you take your blinders off occasionally and look for new ways to meet other business professionals. Ask colleagues for recommendations or tap into your online networks to uncover new opportunities.
PrideStaff has strong business ties with leading employers throughout the country. If you’re looking for a job, we can help you make the right connections to create lasting career success. Simply put, PrideStaff will help ensure that you just don’t search, but succeed.