A networking event is your chance to impress the movers and shakers in your industry with your skills. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell everyone just how great you are at what you do.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like this. You see, nobody likes a gloater. Being successful at networking isn’t about being hyper-confident. No, it’s all about being vulnerable and making real connections.
If you want to build a network that gets you hired, follow these tips:
1. Build Relationships, Don’t Boast
You’ve got years of experience and three master’s degrees, but the fact is most people at a networking event aren’t interested in your achievements. Instead, they are there to build meaningful relationships of mutual benefit.
Instead of bragging about your career, try to help people solve problems. This means engaging in discussions, learning about people’s challenges, and offering actionable solutions based on your expertise.
2. Play Nice
You don’t need to be bold or brash to win over a potential networking contact. There’s a big difference between being assertive and being arrogant. Always err on the side of being respectful.
Provide someone with something of value before you ask them for a favor, whether it’s an informational interview or a request to pass your resume on to a hiring manager. You have to help someone before you can expect them to help you back.
3. Make Friends
Networking is a great way to find a new job. In fact, employers fill 85 percent of all jobs through networking. But networking is also a chance to meet new people and make lifelong friends.
As Sarath Menon writes for The Startup, “Some of the strongest friendships [have] started from networking.” When you approach networking as a chance to make friends, you don’t build transactional, one-off relationships. Instead, you create bonds with people who can help you improve your career — and your life — in the long run.
Forget everything you’ve been told about networking. Building new relationships, playing nice, and making friends at these events will provide you with more benefits than simply asking for a job ever could. If you want to position yourself for long-term career success, focus on relationships first. Everything else will follow.
Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is motivated by building confidence in engineers.