If you’ve job searched for more than a day, there are a handful of words you’ve probably heard over and over:
- Personal brand.
- Elevator speech.
- Soft Skills.
What do these words actually mean? How do you do them well?
Welcome to our five-part series, Job Search Buzzwords. We’ll explain these terms in an easy way to understand. And, give you practical ways to start putting these words into actions.
Job Search Buzzword: Networking — What is it?
Dictionary definition: interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.
Our definition: Getting to know other people in the community so you can help them and they can help you.
How to do it?
Forget the phrase networking. Instead think relationship maintenance. Networking is about meeting people you want to share ideas and resources with and are genuinely interested in staying connected. Networking is a way of thinking and not a “thing” you do once a month.
Networking is natural. When was the last time someone you knew asked you for a restaurant recommendation? Or asked for your thoughts on a problem they had with a project? This is networking in action! You develop relationships with people. And, they trust what you share because you have a relationship with them.
Attend events that make sense for you. Don’t go to every networking event planned. You’ll wear yourself out. Instead go to the events with interesting speakers or people attending.
Prepare before you go.
- Decide your goal for going before you step in the door: do you want to meet with three people, meet a specific person, or find someone you can help.
- Avoid awkward conversations. Have a few conversation starters in mind: ‘How did you hear about this event?’ ‘Have you ever been before?’ ‘Hi, I don’t know too many people here, so I wanted to introduce myself. I’m [name].’
Follow-up. People are busy. The next day, send a quick email to remind them of you and your conversation. Make sure to send them any articles, videos, project examples you promised.
Maintain the relationships. After you send your follow-up email, connect to them on LinkedIn. Do they tweet? Follow them on Twitter. Monitor your social media feeds and comment on their posts sometimes. Email them once in a while to check-in. And keep an eye out for them at future networking events.
Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.