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Part 3: The Benefits of Networking

Part 3 of a three-part series on networking:

Part 1 Why Network

How does it help?

The first steps to keep in touch

How to use social media to passively network

When should I link with someone on LinkedIn

Don’t be fake

Part 2 The Art of Networking

When do you need a networking campaign?

The 4 steps of a networking campaign

1. Track activity

2. Decide whom to call

3. Choose your form of contact

4. Practice what to say

Part 3 The Benefits of networking

Prepare for the meeting

Write the agenda

Specific questions

Follow up

Pay it forward

The benefits of networking

You’ve read enough in Parts 1 and 2 of this series to understand the actual benefits of networking, so I’ll skip the redundancy. And not repeat myself. Again.

Prepare for the meeting

When interviewing candidates, I value hearing what they’ve learned about the company. The more senior and more qualified ones will have researched more deeply, and this information usually differentiates them during the process.

Do your research. If you will meet with Sarah Smithfield from ACME Financial and you know she lives in Swampscott, Massachusetts, there are plenty of places to gather the basic information. Consider these platforms with the following keywords:

Google

“Sarah Smithfield” Swampscott

“Sarah Smithfield” ACME Financial

ACME Financial

LinkedIn

“Sarah Smithfield” ACME Financial

ACME Financial

Glassdoor

ACME Financial

Facebook

Sarah Smithfield

Sarah Smithfield Swampscott

ACME Financial

Twitter

Sarah Smithfield

YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram

Sarah Smithfield” Swampscott

Sarah Smithfield” ACME


I like to keep a document and cut and paste information as I learn it. Then I can reference it later.

  • As you search, be curious, follow your gut and follow the information:

  • See if Sarah is listed on the company website using its search function.

  • Look at ACME Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram to learn about the company and see its values and mission.

  • When you find other companies Sarah has worked at, check out those companies in the same way.

  • After learning Sarah’s schooling, Google her name and the school name to see what you learn.

  • Read ACME Financial reviews on Glassdoor to learn how some employees evaluate working there and see pictures of the work environment.

  • Looking up Sarah’s previous companies on Glassdoor to learn similar information.

  • If you see a common link on LinkedIn or friend on Facebook, you may choose to reach out and learn more about Sarah from them. That is networking, too, of course.

I have also found content on YouTube and Vimeo that I’ve not brought up in conversation:

  • A video of a CEO and son doing the water-bottle flip down the stairs

  • A video of a professional who rescued mice after finding some in their home

  • A video of an intoxicated executive at a karaoke bar singing by a stripper pole

What kind of information may pop up?

  • Home and previous address

  • Public running or biking race results

  • Board memberships

  • Volunteerism

  • Legal information

  • Obituaries of family members

  • Registered political affiliation

  • Political donations

  • Pictures and quotes in newspapers

  • Speaking engagements

  • Hobbies

  • Family pictures

  • Passions and interests

  • Friends in common

  • Sports interests

  • Music interests

Write the agenda

Preparation is important. Before your meeting, draw up an agenda for your eyes only.

Think through your goal and what you’d like to accomplish, as you would for any business meeting.

Example:

Some sample verbiage for the intro:

Sarah, thank you so much for taking time to have a cup of coffee with me today. I really appreciate it.

I would like to share with you what I was hoping to learn from you today, if that’s ok.

Your background in finance is interesting to me. I hope you can tell me about your career and walk me through it so I can learn how you have made your career moves and decisions.

My resume is in draft form and any advice you have would be super. And of course, I’ll probably have a bunch of questions for you along the way. Does that sound ok?

Sample verbiage for asking for the referral:

Listening to you talk about your career has been really helpful. It’s clear you have gotten some great opportunities earlier in your career.

Based on my resume and what we have talked about, I’m wondering whom you know who may also be willing to talk with me and share their opinions about my resume.

Specific questions

Prepare a list of specific questions and be sure to do your research about your contact. Google them, look them up on LinkedIn and ask others about them if possible.

Look at the company they work for. Does the company website have any openings? Are you a good fit for any of the openings? If you are a reasonable fit for a role, say, “That sounds like the type of place I’d like to work,” when they talk about their company. Be sure to ask your contact to submit your resume. Many companies have employee referral programs that reward their workers with extra money or referral bonuses when they refer people for open roles. It’s in their best interest to refer a qualified candidate. Companies often pay thousands of dollars to an employee who has referred a person for a full-time role.

Possible questions to ask your contact:

1. Based on what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were at my stage in my career?

2. Looking at my resume, what would you think of me if you didn’t know me?

3. Now that we have spoken a bit, what would be something I can improve about how I present myself?

4. As someone who has hired people yourself, what are some of the qualities you find in the most successful people you have hired?

5. You’ve been in this industry for a while. What do you wish someone would have told you when you were starting out?

6. How do you think this industry will change in the next 5-10 years?

7. What do you do to stay current in your role? (certifications, readings, seminars, trade shows)

Note:

*** Be prepared to answer questions about what you do and don’t want to do. Networking is for people who know what their goal is. It’s not for the person who just "wants a job" or who will "do anything for a paycheck. Well, almost anything." If you don’t know what you want to do, you need a therapist, a career coach or a really good friend.

Follow up

Before your meeting, prepare your standard follow-up email. This should be casual in nature, with room for customization.

During the meeting, look for something that you can reference in your follow-up email.

Examples:

  • If they mention something about a new golf swing technique they recently tried, you can find an article and share the link in your email.

  • If they mention being fearful about getting stung by a murder hornet, you can include an article citing new remedies for murder hornet stings.

You get the idea. This is also great for interviews. Take a personal tidbit and reference it in the email to make it special set it apart from all the others. This helps people remember you.

Pay it forward

You’ve asked a lot of other people to do things for you, so please do the same for others. Help people with their careers. Give people advice. Become a mentor and welcome them to come to you as they need.

Tell me below, who has influenced you and helped your career, and who have you helped?

Some believe that your intent and action may influence your future. Karma. hmmmmmm.

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