In This Section:
Networking is an ongoing process that will continue to demand your time and attention. Over the course of your career you will develop tools for keeping in touch with established contacts and reaching out to new ones.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE INTERACTION
- Take a minute after your conversation to make a few notations about the conversation and the person on their business card.
- Prepare a brief thank you letter (see attached sample) outlining some specific points covered during your interview. Acknowledge that the information the interviewee gave you is important.
- Enclose an updated resume if the contact gave you advice on editing it.
- Follow through with any commitments you made during the meeting.
EVALUATE THE CONVERSATION/EVENT
- Did it meet your goals and objectives?
- Did you come away with answers to most of your questions?
- Did it confirm or change your impressions of the occupation or industry?
- Did it help prepare you for future plans?
- Did you make yourself memorable (in a positive way)?
- Does your contact now know your goals, skills, and experiences; and does s/he have a sense of what kind of person you are?
- Did you get additional contact names?
TRACKING INFORMATION and CONTACTS
- Create a system for tracking your contacts, and enter business card/contact information into a system. Electronic systems can work well for this.
- Use labels/tags for the details that will help you recall details about your contact, so that future interactions will be more personal. How did you meet? Introduced by whom? Date and location of the meeting/event?
- Use descriptions for job-search contacts and for non-job search types. Set up a separate field in your contact manager for contact type such as: friend/family, company, peer, alumni, etc.
- Be proactive for your contacts’ needs. Ask what they need. Help find matches and provide introductions. They will think positively of you and want to return the favor.
- Keep track of your activity, including whom you have contacted, what was discussed, and when you plan to follow up. Keep in touch with your contacts. Inform them of job interviews and offers.
- If you contact a person they recommended, make sure you follow up with your initial contact to thank them again and let them know how the meeting went. This gives you another opportunity to ask for additional contacts, something they will gladly provide given how professionally you handled the first referral.
- Build into your tracking system some sort of reminder “ticklers” to alert you when you should reach out to your contacts again.
It is critical that you respond to follow-up messages from your new contacts. Do not simply ignore a message because you are “busy.” Your professional contacts are also extremely busy, and they have taken time for you!
Maintain and build your relationship through continued active communication, such as an email when you learn something new related to your conversation, or when you come across something that may be helpful to that contact’s needs/career, or when you make a decision about your next steps (accept a new job, move to a new city, graduate from college, begin a new search, etc.).
MAKING THE SECOND IMPRESSION
Tim Sanders, motivational speaker and author of The Likeability Factor, has FIVE simple tips that will help you make a great second impression:
- Remember the details of the first meeting; in a second meeting, start with your insight from the first meeting.
- Try not to repeat yourself too much. Bring fresh content.
- Over prepare. Let the first meeting dialogue be the basis for a deeper dive into the details in preparation for meeting #2.
- Be grateful for the chance to meet again. Time is worth more than money.
- Take it to the next level. Move from “getting to know you” to “let’s make something happen now.”
TRANSITIONing FROM NETWORKING TO ACTIVE JOB SEARCHing
This is when your time and effort for building and maintaining your contacts can pay off. You can ask members of your network for leads or referrals to potential contacts in the field or a specific organization. Reconnect with your network to let them know you are searching, describing your goals and the types of opportunities or organizations you are seeking.
After researching potential organizations, another resource for job networking is your LinkedIn account and contacts you have already developed. Pick your top five employers and research those in your network who may be connected or have previous experience with them. Expand your use of LinkedIn groups to identify additional leads.