Introduction to Networking – Preparation is the Key

Last week The Applied Companies presented The Jim Annis Guide to Excellent Networking. This week we assist those new to networking or in unfamiliar situations – such as acquiring a new position in a different field or relocating. How do you capitalize on the time and effort required to network effectively?

We teamed with Chuck Sweeney, business coach and motivational speaker, of Chuck Sweeney Associates to design 10 Questions to Prepare for Networking:

#1 – What is your reason for networking?  For business or fun? Are you attending an event for pleasure? Are you going to work the crowd – seek out people you need to meet? Be honest with yourself. It will make a difference in your results. 

#2 – What do you want to get out of networking? Are you casting a net to meet contacts for job seeking? Build professional relationships? Market your business?  

#3 – What do you hope to accomplish? What needs to happen for networking to be worth your time? Do you want to get your contact information to five key prospects to have a real conversation regarding – employment – your product or service – setting up a time to meet for coffee or lunch?  Perhaps you want the opportunity to give your “30-second infomercial” three times to likely prospects or contacts.

#4 – Are you attending an appropriate event? There are times when you gather enough information about an event to know it simply isn’t targeted toward your networking goals. Sometimes it feels intuitive; however, you may have to attend to know:

If it will lead you where you want to go – is it worth attending monthly lunches/meetings on a regular basis?

If it is a good fit – does the focus of the group or attendees make you comfortable?

If you are interested – is it educational, informative, fun? Do you like the people?

If it has the potential for you to make beneficial contacts – build business – find employment – educate.

#5 – Who do you want to meet? Is there a key contact attending an event that is critical to your goals? If you do not know they will attend – do research. Look at chamber directories to verify members. Are business associations or group memberships listed online? Contact the membership director and say “I need your help. I’m new to town (or I’m a student, or I have a new job) and would like to meet . . .“ Key contact not a member? Ask who in their membership holds a similar position or is considered an expert in this field or endeavor.

#6 – Who do you know that might introduce you to the key contact? Is there someone you (or any of your contacts) know who is in the key person’s industry, their Association, or works with their company? Would they be willing to introduce you at an event, or even better, set up an appointment?

#7 – If you were me . . . ? Ask others in your field or the field you want to be in, “if you were me, who would you talk to; what events would you attend; what organizations/associations would be a good fit?” Everybody has an opinion and most people want to help when asked.

#8 – Relocating? Have you utilized your current organizations/contacts? Try these tips:

Moving because of a partner? Ask his/her contacts to help you. Some companies give consideration to partners when filling positions within the company, if not, they may direct you to their staffing service.

Find out if anyone in your current organizations/associations knows people in your new location. Contact them to establish a relationship. Are any of your contacts a recruiter (headhunter)? Do they have associates in your new location?

If you are a member of an organization, association, faith-based group, community non-profit, etc. find out if they have establishments in your new location. Contact them as soon as possible.

#9 – Have you made use of your Social Network? Put the word out to your LinkedIn and Facebook contacts that you are attending an event – relocating – job seeking – have a product or service. Can your contacts introduce you to a key contact? Join groups related to why you are networking and make contacts within the groups – ask for their help.

#10 – How can you get involved? Once you decide to join or become a part of a group (locally or via social media), get ACTIVE. Network with the goal to eventually meet every member. Volunteer to be on a committee – perhaps the one that gets you the best exposure – or the one you will most enjoy. Participate, however, don’t over-commit or overpromise!

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 17 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.