We all know that networking is the most effective way to find a job. But these six mistakes can kill your networking efforts.
1) Not preparing for the networking event and not having a plan of "attack."
What do I mean by preparation and a plan of attack?
A. Find out who else will be there and what companies/organizations will be represented. (The organization arranging the event should have a guest list.)
B. Learn as much as you can about the different companies.
C. You have to be aggressive with your time, meaning, you must designate a certain amount of time for each individual on your list.
D. You have to follow through closely and stick to the designated time limits with each person.
E. Don't forget to take your business cards with you and use a different pocket for those cards that you will be receiving from others.
2) Taking your resume with you to a networking event.
You might be shocked to hear this - don't take your resume with you when you attend professional meetings. I'm talking about conferences, trade shows, club meetings, cocktail parties and such. Do you really want to be seen as a desperate person who walks around with a folder full of resumes? Do you really want to juggle that folder and worry about whether the resumes get wrinkled or not, how many you can give away and whether the person you gave it to will remember where he or she put it?
(Now, of course, DO take your resume‚ to job fairs and related career-events. Leave them with the appropriate person and don't forget to record who you gave your resume‚ to so you can follow up within a couple of weeks or so with a phone call.)
3) Not having a PREPARED and REHEARSED 20 second "mini" speech/introduction about your expertise.
You cannot just show up blindly, thinking whatever happens will be OK.
A 20 seconds mini speech is not too long. It's just enough for you to articulate your expertise and let someone know what you are about. So, when someone asks you what you do, give her or him your mini speech.
Don't be a generalist. Don't just say: "I'm a Process Engineer and I work for Ford Motor Company."
Instead, be SPECIFIC. Say: "I'm a Process Engineer and my expertise lies in providing cost effective solutions to complex process engineering problems within the automotive industry."
4) Not finding out how you could contribute.
Ask questions! Find out what problems the person you are talking to is facing within his/her job and industry. Then, if appropriate, propose your possible solution by lining up your matching skills. Basically, find out how you could contribute, how you could help them solve a problem.
5) Focusing on yourself.
You will come across as far more personable if you ask questions about the other person instead of talking about yourself. Remember that people do business with those they perceive as friendly and those that show genuine interest in learning about the other person. So, by showing an interest in the other person, you will accomplish two things: learn about her or him and about their company's needs and will show that you are personable and a good communicator. So, ask away! You will reap great benefits.
6) Not sending a thank you note.
Send a thank you note to those that took the time to talk with you at the networking event. Thank them for their time and again, subtly, let them know about your expertise.
Say something like:
"Mr. Smith, it was great talking to you at the XYZ conference. As a Website Designer, I particularly enjoyed our talk regarding the future of e-commerce and Internet technology."
By Rita Fisher