Friday, October 23, 2009

How to Network Like a Pro

2) Recognize — and Work Around — Your Shyness

If you’re shy about calling strangers to discuss your job search, take heart — so are most other people!

“It’s a myth that you have to be an extrovert to network. It’s not about personality at all. Networking is simply a skill,” says Donna Fisher, author of “Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success.”

Tip: Focus your attention on others and how you can help them, because this automatically makes you less self-conscious. “Once you realize that others feel awkward, too, you’re going to feel more natural, network better and gather valuable information,” says Fisher, who confesses to being somewhat shy herself.

Yet, even an introvert can start a good conversation. All you have to do is let the other person talk about themselves. Fisher suggests these openings the next time you find yourself at a networking function:

“How did you get involved with the ____ Club?”
“Can you tell me a little bit about this organization?”
“What made you decide to go into your line of work?”

3) Follow a “Wish List”

Before you start networking to find a job, you have to know where you’re going.

“Through job postings, online information and network connections, [you should] create a wish list of the companies where you would like to work,” suggests ExecuNet Vice-President, Lauryn Franzoni.

Once you have specific employers in mind, your network can lead you to people you need to meet. “The more you know about a company and the problems they face, the better positioned you are to demonstrate how you can help,” says Franzoni.

People respect — and are quick to help — other people who know where they’re going.

So, help others help you. You absolutely need to know where you’re going — the names of 10-20 companies you want to work for. With this “wish list” in hand, it’s a simple matter of finding people you know (or, more likely, people they know) at your target companies, and getting referred to a hiring manager there.

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