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April 22nd, 2011,
Learn how to network

By Noël Rozny

Job seekers, tell me if this sounds familiar: you’ve been to countless networking events, happy hours, and professional mixers. You’ve done your best to smile, work the room, and share your story. You’ve handed out dozens of business cards, collected dozens of business cards, and even emailed copies of your resume to promising prospects. And now … crickets.

If you’re networking isn’t working, it could be because you’ve been listening to the wrong career advice. Showing up at networking events with resumes and business cards isn’t enough anymore. Today’s job market is tough, and with new job search tools available to you, you’ve got to make the most of every tool you have available to you.

Career Advice: Why Your Networking Efforts Fail (And What to Do About It)

You’re Not Capitalizing on Social Media
If you treat networking events like a blind date, meaning you head in not knowing anyone¸ you’re at a disadvantage. You’ve got to scout the room, try to find the career professionals in your niche, and make the most of your time with them. If you choose poorly, you could spend valuable minutes talking to the wrong person, the person who works in a completely different sector than you and who wants to tell you all about his son’s little league tournament.

This is where social media can make or break you. By using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Brazen Careerist to connect ahead of time, you can get a jump start on face-to-face networking. Look up the individuals who you know will be attending an upcoming networking event, and find out more about who they are, what they do, and how it relates to your job search needs. Start a conversation with them. Read up on their blog posts. When you attend your next event, you’ll not only know how to look for, but what they’re up to and what to talk to them about.

You’re Only Telling Your Side of the Story
Great networkers know a secret: they pay it forward. They do their best to make connections for other job seekers and employers, and in return, that good will comes back their way when they are in need of help.

If you’re going to networking events with only your agenda on the table, you’re destined to fail. Networking is about building relationships, so come prepared with your own arsenal of names, colleagues, and contact information, and see who you can help. Give other networkers ideas of possible jobs, people they should talk to, blogs they should read. Then sit back and watch what happens – it will come back to you.

You Need More Patience
I already mentioned that networking is about building relationships, which is why you need a little patience for the pay off to arrive. If you attend a networking event and you’re expecting to get a job offer that same day, you’re bound to be disappointed. You have to think of networking as an introduction, almost like a first date. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you after one date, would you? Of course not. So temper your expectations next time you attend a networking event. Prepare yourself to meet some great people, and to start building the relationships you’ll be able to capitalize off of in the future.

You Need Better Follow Up
After a networking event, do you sit back and wait for the phone to ring and your inbox to fill up? Take matters into your own hands and make yourself responsible for the follow up. Email your contacts and tell them how nice it was to meet them. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Forward any opportunities or articles you think they’d be interested in. (Creating a spreadsheet of your contacts and their interests/needs is a great way to keep track of who’s looking for what.) The important thing is to open up that line of communication after the event, and then keep that line open through regular, valuable communications.

  • ed han

    Noel, I really like this: so true re: importance of doing research for networking events–and I had to laugh at the crickets reference! Well done!

  • Chris Parker

    Noel,nThis is just full of great and useful information. I love the part about paying it forward

  • Noel

    Thanks Chris!!

  • pharmaceutical generics

    Excellent.. That story is true.. Yeah it build a relationship between from one to another.. Also lot of features is there.. Thanks for this great work..

  • Tony Morrison

    Hi Noel, thanks for sharing this advice. These are all really great tips for job seekers out there networking. I think people definitely underestimate how you can use social media to network–it can be a great tool. I also like how you said that networking is a two-way relationship. The people you network with aren’t there just to help you out; you should be able to offer something in return. Otherwise you won’t be hearing from them for much longer. Great post!

  • Allison Cheston

    Noel,nnVery well written and I really like your advice. Practical steps that anyone can use to bolster their search!

  • Why Your Networking Isn’t Working | Blog

    [...] View Comments| Tweet| Job seekers, tell me if this sounds familiar: you’ve been to countless networking events, happy hours, and professional mixers. You’ve done your best to smile, work the room, and [...]

  • DanaLeavy

    Great thought, Noel! u00a0Particularly about having patience and understanding that networking is all about creating relationships and not immediate results (though that can happen, but not often). u00a0There’s definitely a lifecycle to it, including the intro, follow up, the building rapport and trust and the leverage of that connection. Thanks for sharing! u00a0Cheers!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comments! :)

  • Mark Anthony Dyson

    Super point about being patient. There is an elementary fact about networking that is often overlooked: people have to like you, care for you, to refer you. No one likes an impatient bore, and no one wants to work with one either.u00a0

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mark! I think this is the hardest one, because of course we would all love for our networking to pay off immediately. The best opportunities, though, come from the relationships that you really nurture. — Noel

  • Gionni Crawford

    Great tips, now I know what to improve on!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Gionni! Glad it was helpful. Networking is so important these days.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your response! It definitely helps if you have time. :)