by Lynn Berger
Some expert tips for making the most out of networking in professional associations. A how-to for job-seekers to achieve greater networking success within your profession and at your next industry event — trade show, meeting, conference:
- At an industry function try to speak to as many people as possible. Tell people what type of job interests you and ask them to consider you if they hear anything. They usually will be receptive.
- Be clear; identify your objective, skill set, target market, and time frame. Whether or not people want to support you or recommend you depends on whether they think you are qualified. Be sure to provide examples of your accomplishments to share with potential contacts. The best examples have clear and measurable accomplishments.
- Be authentic, open, honest, and positive about the progress of your job search. In today’s job market people generally like to help because someday they or someone they know will need the same favor.
- Before you speak with someone at a professional meeting, create a list of targeted organizations for which you would like to work and names of key people in the organization. Then gather information by talking to insiders in those organizations. If you don’t find insiders, make sure you ask your contacts if they know key people you’ve targeted.
- Seek advice. Most people love to help and offer ideas and suggestions. Their advice may result in an organization you had not considered. It may also lead to additional contacts inside companies and organizations.
- Generate referrals. One of the main goals of networking is getting referrals. A person is more like to meet with you via an introduction or referral. Here’s an example: A client of mine was very involved in his professional association. At an industry lunch he discovered that a colleague was leaving a firm to join another. My client was unhappy in his current job because of a poor job fit. His colleague recommended him for the job he was leaving. My client interviewed with the company and received a job offer.
- Return the favors. One key to networking is to remember what you can give back. Look for opportunities to assist your contacts, and remember them when you are looking for a job. Listen carefully for clues, including the person’s interests and hobbies so you can build relationships.
- Send notes of thanks for your contacts’ time. An email is fine, but many people appreciate a handwritten note. See our FAQS About Thank-You Letters.
Don’t make these networking mistakes:
- Don’t simply inquire about current available jobs, an approach that often leads to an abrupt end to the discussion could. Proper networking etiquette includes asking if the person has any ideas, suggestions, or referrals that you can contact in your industry.
- Don’t network without a common interest. People who have a common bond and interest are more likely to be interested in helping you, which is where the value and power professional associations come into play.
Read our companion article, Fast Track Your Job Search by Networking Through a Professional Association, by Joe Turner.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Lynn Berger, MA, EdM, is a National Certified Counselor, Professional Certified Coach, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She hosts an online Internet radio show, Making the Most of Your Life. She has appeared as a guest expert on radio and television shows across the nation and has been featured in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Newsday, BusinessWeek.com, Monster.com, and CNNfn.com. In addition to her private practice, Lynn conducts work-life seminars in the New York City area. She lives in New York City. This article is adapted from Berger, Lynn, The Savvy Part-Time Professional — How To Land, Create and Negotiate the Part-Time Job of Your Dreams, Capital Books Inc.
Achieve career networking success! Take advantage of all the career networking tools, articles, and resources found in our The Art of Career Networking section of Quintessential Careers.