The people in your network want to help you. You just need to make it easy for them by being prescriptive and explicit in how they can best help you. If you do not direct them on how to help, the networking conversation is likely going to be ambiguous and lead to a sub-optimal outcome.
Every networking conversation is not going to end in a request for a job. That is one potential outcome (albeit not the most likely outcome). Not every person you speak with is going to be the end decision maker who has the influence to give you access to a great opportunity.
You need to be strategic with how you use each conversation. At a bare minimum, each networking conversation should provide you with more useful information as you continue your search.
At this point, you may be wondering, what are some of the common mistakes most people make during their networking conversations? Below I’m sharing a few of the most common mistakes I see people making during their networking calls.
6 Common Mistakes
1- Not preparing for the conversation: Why are you meeting this specific person? Do you have a perspective on how they can help you? Did you review their LinkedIn background? Are there specific industries, sectors, job functions you want to ask about?
2- Not building rapport or a relationship: The level of trust you build with the individual, is directly proportional to their willingness to help you in your job search. If they have never met you before, and are taking this meeting as a favor, it is unlikely they’ll submit a passionate referral on your behalf. Invest time into building a relationship, getting to know them, giving them a reason to like you as an individual.
3- Only networking when they need a job: Building your network is a lifelong journey. Staying in touch with individuals, meeting new people, growing relationships should be a regular activity. Opportunity does not work around your schedule, when you need it, or when it’s convenient for you. There may be a better opportunity for you out there right now, but you won’t know about it if you are not networking
4- Asking for generic roles: Making the person you are networking with, do the work for you. Asking them to think about what role you are best suited for. You need to be explicit. Tell them exactly what type of role you think you are a great fit for, and why.
- What to do: “Based on my background I believe I’m a great fit for direct sales roles in the enterprise SaaS space”
- What not to do: “What type of sales roles are available?”
5- Not following up: After somebody has agreed to help you, it is on you to follow up with them. Remind them a few days later, send a thank you note. Be accountable for your own success, don’t assume your needs are the other persons top priority
6- Not talking to enough people: Treat this exercise as a game of numbers. The larger the volume of people you speak with, the higher probability that networking will lead to a great outcome
Always remember, the purpose of networking is to help you find more information towards your end goal which is finding that next great opportunity.
Be purpose driven with every conversation, look to gain value out of this investment of your time. Be thankful, gracious, and respectful to the other persons time and always make sure they end the conversation feeling good about their attempt to help you.