As most job seekers know, networking conversations can take place almost anywhere. At times these conversations are intentional because you’ve made plans to go to a young professionals networking group. Other times, they come upon you in a flash and go by rather quickly. You’re at a dinner party and suddenly you’re shaking hands with the head of sales at a company you’ve been cold-calling for weeks. Then just as suddenly, the opportunity has flown past you! Beyond having basic conversation skills, what can you do to make sure that you make the most of a networking opportunity when it comes your way?
In any opportunity, here are a few networking tips to keep in mind to make a networking conversation effective for you.
1. Current Events
Keep up on current events relevant to your industry and interest so that you can discuss them intelligently. Showing that you are knowledgeable about industry trends and passionate about your field can help the conversation move smoothly. This knowledge can be useful in others aspects of your job search as well; potential employers appreciate a well-informed job seeker.
2. Show Interest
Show genuine interest in the person to whom you are speaking. This may seem fundamental, but half of the skills needed for an effective conversation involve asking insightful and interesting questions and then listening to their answers carefully. Ask this contact questions about their career or field of interest. They may even surprise you by having a little known hobby or unique contact that fits directly into your field.
3. Demonstrate Your Accessibility
It’s a good idea to always have business cards with you that include your contact information and relevant online profiles such as LinkedIn and Spark Hire. Now, if someone offers to give their contact your name, you can hand them a card and make it obvious that you are easily available for any potential opportunity.
4. Be Open Minded
Be open to new and big ideas- especially during your job search. While you should be discerning about your contacts, don’t shy away from a conversation just because you believe this person wouldn’t understand your interests or passions. By listening carefully and being open, you may surprise yourself with what catches your attention. As mentioned in this useful article from Salary.com, by going into a networking conversation with rigid expectations, you could be missing a great job opportunity, and you’ve easily lost the opportunity for an effective networking conversation.
5. Elevator Pitch
Finally, have a prepared pitch. When the time comes for you to explain your areas of interest, experience and job search, be ready. It helps to have a succinct pitch that you can deliver off the cuff and that gets to the heart of your job search needs. This could focus on the jobs or industries you’ve been looking into, the networking contacts you’re currently searching for, or the areas of the job search in which you’ve hit a snag. At the end, ask for advice or contact information. This will help you be sure you capitalized on the opportunity.
What are some tips you employ for effective networking conversations? Share them with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by laszlo-photo