We all know the song “Hello” by Adele. Calling a thousand times probably won’t do much good when it comes to networking. So, how do you get a business or recruiter to notice you without coming off too strong?
Networking is key to keeping your ideas fresh and your opportunities open. I am currently an intern at ZipBooks and am pursuing a career in advertising. While I am enjoying my internship, I know that networking is important for me to do as I take my next steps towards my career. Here are five ways that have helped me reach out and create meaningful relationships through networking that will hopefully give you more success than Adele had in her past relationship.
I recently attended an advertising conference held nearby. I am always striving to meet new people because you never know where it can lead you. Just last night I met four or five great creative directors that gave me some advice to use for the future. I received a bunch of leads and made some great connections, but my main objective was to show them my work and find out how I can get better. The connections I got from that experience was more of a bonus.
A friend in high school told me that I wouldn’t get anywhere in life unless I knew the right people. While this advice is important, it didn’t matter who I met if I didn’t understand the “why” behind why I wanted to meet people. As I started to explore my career options, I began to see the reason behind networking.
Understanding why you want to network will help you know what to do and say. Networking objectives may change throughout life, depending on where you are and what your goals are. If I’m starting a new business, networking becomes important to find the right people to work with and find out how other entrepreneurs were successful. If I’m looking for a new career, I’ll want to find out what options I can have in my career and what other people do to climb the ladders of success.
Whichever your reasoning for networking, take a moment and write down your goal for networking. It’s good to go back to it often to remind yourself the “why” behind talking to everyone.
Alright, so you have your objective in mind, now what? My most successful networking encounters have been because of curiosity. When I’m networking, I don’t just talk about how I’m looking for a certain job or service. I am simply curious about their life. I am genuine and ask them questions about what they have been experiencing recently.
When I first attended college, I needed a job immediately. I applied everywhere, but no one seemed to be hiring. When I was out grabbing dinner, I ran into a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for a while. We started catching up and naturally, he started telling me about how he works as a networking operator for a broadcasting agency.
I started getting curious and asked him all sorts of questions about the job, like “What do you do exactly?,” “How long have you worked there?,” and “How did you get the job?.” The last thing he explained was that he got the job because he knew someone who knew the boss. That was when I went for it. “I’m actually looking for a job right now and I’ve had no luck. Do you think you can shoot him my resume and give a good word about me?” He agreed and I got hired a week later.
Work on becoming a curious person. Ask people what they do and their story of how they got there. People love talking about themselves, so let them. Then at the right moment, if interested, ask how you could possibly get your foot in the door. You will find people are generally more than willing to help.
The best way to meet people is to be around people. This may seem simple, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right places to go to meet the most relevant people out there.
One way to find new places is through networking online. Research businesses that interest you, whether for future career options, or for business help. Follow them on Twitter and pay attention to any events that they announce. Subscribe to newsletters to stay updated on what the company is doing. I once heard from a recruiter that they usually hire people who are actively participating in discussions on Linkedin and Twitter with different companies.
I met a recruiter at a career fair once and we totally hit it off. I went home that evening and immediately sent her an email and connected with her on Linkedin. I also applied for the position that we had talked about that same day. I was worried that I was being too forward and fast and I didn’t want to come off as desperate. She got back to me the next day and was thrilled that I showed so much interest. I got the position just two weeks later.
I find that connecting online with a new contact the same day you meet them is crucial for creating a relationship with them.
Don’t worry about showing too much interest in a company. When you are too hesitant, you’ll often miss important opportunities. Make sure, however, you don’t bother a person too much. Nobody wants to get bombarded with emails from someone begging for a job. Make your move quickly, and then just wait a while.
If they don’t get back to you in a few weeks, send a follow-up email in case they were busy at the time you sent your first email. If they don’t reply to that email, don’t worry about it. Look for other opportunities and possibly reach out to them later down the road.
Now that you have a contact and you’ve been emailing back and forth, throw out a simple lunch invitation. Everyone has to eat lunch and it always feels great to get an invite. I have found that this always gets great results. Even if unable to set up a meeting with you, they will most likely express their appreciation that you thought of them and reached out. Don’t sweat it if they are unable to, they still know that you put forth the effort.
If they do agree to lunch, reply back with two or three restaurants that you’d be willing to take them to and have them choose which one. That way, you can decide the price range beforehand but still give them the choice to choose which place.
While at lunch, treat them like a friend and catch up with them as if you haven’t seen them for a while. Let the conversation naturally lead to business by asking some simple questions and showing your curiosity.
By following these five steps, your networking will lead you to more success in your career. As my time nears to an end here at ZipBooks, I am grateful for the networking I did because it has led me to a second internship at a competitive agency called Crispin Porter + Bogusky as a copywriter intern. This will be a great resume builder and help me in the early stages of my career.
Remember that as you network, be open. You never know what opportunities can come your way even from people that don’t seem to be exactly who you want to talk to. And when you start to obtain success in your career, be sure to remember to help others who network with you. By passing on the success you will naturally become more successful because people will see your efforts.