Networking is about collecting information and getting the names of new people to talk tonot asking someone for a job. By talking to enough people and collecting enough information, you will hear of career opportunities and how to pursue them.
Networking works when you form mutually-beneficial relationships; you and your contact need to have something to offer each other, either now or in future.
You have to feel comfortable with each other and shouldn't feel that you are asking your contacts for favours or are in some way indebted to them.
Your initial approach should be done in a way that doesn't embarrass you or make you feel awkward. Some people are happier initiating contact by phone, others by email or even letter.
Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, so use whichever one you are most comfortable with. In the last articleI focused on setting the objectives for your conversations with of your contacts. Your initial approach to a potential networking contact should reflect this.
A good opening approach to a networking contact could go something like the one below. Adapt it to suit the objectives you have set for each contact and your particular circumstances:. Some people you approach will be quite willing to meet, others may prove more difficult.
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If you encounter resistance, try to explain — without being too pushy — that you just want to have a chat and that you are not asking them to put themselves in a difficult position.
If you still can't get a meeting, don't take it personally, just move on to your next contact. Once you have your meeting arranged you need to structure the conversation to achieve your objectives.
Be clear about what you want to get from the meeting and prepare your questions in advance. Start the meeting by introducing yourself and your career background concisely.
Briefly outline your experience to date and your goals, and then move onto your information-gathering questions. Give the other person time to think about their answers but try to keep the conversation going.
Take notes; it shows that you value their answers and are taking the information they give you seriously. Make sure, as the meeting draws to a close, that you ask if they can give you the names of a couple of other people you should be talking to.
Could they introduce you?
If not, could you mention the fact that they gave you their name? Always aim to leave a networking meeting with two new contacts to approach; it's the best way to expand your network. Don't expect too much from the first meeting with a new contact. Networking doesn't always produce immediate results, it's a cumulative process; the more you engage with someone, the more you learn.
Aim to build a warm relationship, one that will allow you to keep in contact with the person and to follow up from time-to-time. Harry Freedman is a career coach and founder of the Career Advice Centre.
This content is brought to How to make contact with people by Guardian Professional. To get more content and advice like this direct to your inbox, sign up for our weekly update and careers ebook. Adapt it to suit the objectives you have set for each contact and your particular circumstances: I am trying to find out about [your objectives] and wondered if you would you be kind enough to spare 20 minutes or so to allow me to ask you a few questions about this?
My background is in […] and we may well be able to share information.
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If you want to improve your. But how do your perfect your opening gambit and what questions Some people are happier initiating contact by phone, others by email or.