Developing personal contacts,
both formally and informally.
75% of all professional and
technical jobs are obtained through networking. Develop contacts for
information on industries, companies, additional contacts, locations,
Colleagues Former employers/co-workers
agent Classmates (under utilized)
clubs Professional groups
Faculty Former schools
Do not ask for a
job, as this puts people on the sport and they generally have to say
“no”. Instead, ask for information and advice. If they know of a
position that’s right for you, they’ll volunteer that information.
Listen more than talk. Shoot for face-to-face meetings – take them to
breakfast or lunch if needed.
or guilty? Remember: they are giving you contact, not a job! Most people
enjoy being instrumental in someone else’s success. Give them that
opportunity to help and include them in your successes.
SAMPLE INITIAL CONTACT:
“Joe Shmo (from XXX) suggested I call you. I’m
working on (or finishing) my MBA and am exploring career options. I am
looking for information and advice from someone who is doing what I
think I want to do. Can you spend 20 minutes with me at a time that is
convenient for you?”
If you arrange to meet for 20 minutes, stay
within those limits. After your meeting or extended telephone
conversation, thank them and ask for the names of other people with whom
you could talk just as you’ve talked with them. This is networking.
Request to use this person’s name with the meetings you set up. And so
it continues. Leave your contact person a resume for their reference.
Formal thank you letters for meeting or conversation
Result of the contacts they gave you
Send them articles/information you come across during your
research that would be of interest to them – build good will.
Network EVERYWHERE. Standing in line at the
movies, overhear some people talking about something relevant to you –
interrupt and include yourself. Dentists love to talk, and the friendly
ones keep up with what their clients do and where they work. Don’t be
afraid to ask. What is the worst thing that can happen? Airplanes are
also great places to meet professionals (even if you’re not flying first
The easiest resources are professional
organizations. Most national organizations have local chapters that
meet monthly. This is an excellent place to meet and network. A word of
caution: don’t ask people for jobs at meetings. Once again, as for
information and discuss topics of mutual interest. Collect business
cards. Later, call and ask to set up a meeting. If you make a positive
impression on a contact, the job offers will follow.
You are always networking wherever you are, so
make certain you stay on your best behavior when you are around any new
LIST YOUR CONTACTS
Make a list of everyone you know. Yes, everyone!
That’s not an easy task, it’s a necessary one. Start with the people
with whom you are in current contact; then review your achievements list
to recall people with whom you’ve lost touch. Include people from all
facets of your life: business, professional, and voluntary associations;
social, community, and religious organizations; college and other
educational affiliations; military service. Don’t forget customers (past
and present), suppliers, lawyers, accountants, bankers, local merchants,
and relatives. You may wish to organize the list in some way, but don’t
leave out someone because you assume he or she wouldn’t be useful. You
never know who might be useful. This list forms the foundation for your
networking. Keep it handy.
LIST YOUR OBJECTIVES
When a need arises that requires networking,
first write down your objective. You may be looking for specific
knowledge about an industry, tactical advice about approaching a
company, or an introduction to a specific person. Once you are clear
about your objectives, develop a very explicit question that gets at
just what you’re after, such as “Which companies in the pulp and paper
industry are most environmentally aware?” Next, note who on your list
might have that information or be able to recommend you to someone who
POLISH YOUR SCRIPT
Write and polish a networking script. State your
need clearly and concisely. Request the type of assistance you’re hoping
for from your contact, whether information or a referral to someone a
step closer to the information. Stress that you’re willing to work
through a long chain of referrals to find what you’re after; emphasize
that even a remote or peripheral suggestion should be helpful.
TELEPHONE YOUR CONTACTS
Once you’re satisfied with your networking
script, pick up the phone. Begin with people you feel comfortable
calling. Explain your reason for calling. Do your best to obtain at
least one new name from each contact, and additional link in your
network chain. Ask whether you may use your contact’s name when you call
his or her connections. Most important, never back your contact into a
FACILITATE THE NETWORKING CONVERSATION
Help your contact
think about your request in broad terms. If your contact’s first words
are, “I don’t know anyone who fits this description”, make it clear that
you’d value any kind of suggestion, however tangential. Cite examples of
where someone led you to someone, who in turn knew of someone else who
had the information you desired. Intrigue them with the process in order
to stretch their thinking.
briefly describe your marketing campaign and how networking fits in.
Demonstrate how much preparation has preceded your call so your contact
can see that this is not an idle inquiry
If no immediate
ideas are forthcoming, forestall a negative response by suggesting your
contact mull over your request for a day or two. Make specific
arrangements to follow up your call, in a way that leaves no doubt that
you will. And do it!
Be considerate of
each person with whom you network. Be organized, be concise and don’t
waste anyone’s time. Be honest about your needs and sensitive to your
contact’s relationship with his or her network. Don’t expect your
contact to share information if you convey the feeling that you might
not handle it appropriately.
Mention early in
the conversation that you would like to get one or more names. This
gives your contact more time to think of possible names and reduces your
need for call-backs.
networking tasks, face-to-face meetings are the most effective; in many
cases, however, less time-consuming telephone contacts can yield equal
benefits. Seeking in-depth industry or company information and selling
yourself are best done in person. Finding a particular piece of
information may be done more expeditiously by phone. Always be prepared
to accommodate your contact’s preference: if he or she would prefer that
you schedule a face-to-face meeting before sharing contacts, for
example, by all means be prepared to meet. Use the tool to fit the task.
CROSS-REFERENCE YOUR CONTACTS
If you are networking effectively, you should be
able to create as wide a network as you require to achieve the task. The
process generates an increasingly large number of referrals and
contacts. Set up a ready cross-reference system to track who referred
whom and a follow-up system to ensure that you call contacts who
promised to think about your request or who were unavailable when you
your networking efforts are not generating referrals? Check to see what
you may be doing wrong by role-playing. Return to some of your early
network contacts, and ask them for candid feedback. Put yourself in your
Would you be
comfortable being approached the way you are approaching others? Would
you be likely to want to help, if you could?
Does your story
come across as plausible?
Are you clear
about what you expect from your contacts?
Are you expecting
too much, making your contact feel ill at ease?
Are you using the
time of each network contact to best advantage?
Are you someone
others are comfortable referring to their connections? If you are
long-winded, if you overstay your welcome, or if you signal, “Rescue
me”, go back to the drawing board.
Are you networking
under false pretenses? If you’re at the selling stage, don’t ask for an
appointment under the pretax of an investigative interview. Word travels
quickly, and no one appreciates being hoodwinked.