4. Recognize that you'll have good and bad days.
People won't respond to your messages, or decline your requests to chat. A few experiences like this, and you may begin to resist reaching out to key contacts for fear of being rejected. But don't give up! Persistence and a sense of humor are key to successful networking.
Maintaining your objectivity when you're on a job search roller coaster is easier said than done, especially if you are trying to do it alone. A good support system of friends, fellow job seekers, a career counselor, enjoyable activities etc. can be really helpful in smoothing out the unrealistic highs and lows you're bound to experience.
And if you find yourself putting off networking because you just hate doing it, try to come up with a plan that will be excuse proof. Promise a friend you will make 10 contacts a week, and give them reports on your progress. Dedicate time just for networking. Tell yourself you will connect with 12 people before you do any other activities. Then reward yourself for sticking to your plan.
5. Prepare a specific topic for each discussion.
Do some research on the company, industry or career of your contact. Put together a list of questions, including some that deal specifically with their background. Ask for advice on your job search, and the names of other professionals who would be beneficial to connect with. Think about ways you might help, like suggesting other contacts they might find useful.
6. If your contact refers you to other people, keep in touch about how the new connections are going.
Your contact will feel gratified that their contacts were useful, and will admire you for seizing available opportunities.
With a little practice and perseverance, networking can help you connect with important people and positions much more effectively, and stand out in an increasingly crowded job market.
What did you think of these tips? Comment below!
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– Senior Columnist Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979 that works with individual and corporate clients in career transition, job search, executive coaching, talent management and small business issues. She is an award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and a best-selling author of the Wall Street Journal's books on resumes and cover letters. Her articles on a variety of career issues have appeared on numerous career/job websites and trade and business journals. Ms. Besson has been quoted numerous times in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money, and a number of other websites and publications.