The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking (part 1)

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faceless man holding masks with good and bad moodsIn his article, “Hire Economics: Why Applying to Jobs Is a Waste of Time,” Lou Adler writes, “…job-seekers should only spend 20% of their time working the job boards and most of the rest of it networking. A lesson in hire economics helps explain why.”

He wrote that in his book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, he suggests that recruiters should employ a 20/20/60 recruiting strategy. This means recruiters spend 20 percent of their time posting jobs, 20 percent looking for resumes and 60 percent networking.  Adler advises job seekers to adopt a similar 20/20/60 job hunting strategy.

“In this case 20% of the time responding to job postings by going through the back door rather than applying through the front, another 20% ensuring your resume and LinkedIn profile are easy to find and worth reading, and the remaining 60% networking to find jobs in the hidden market.”

Adler believes job seekers should spend the majority of their time networking. And with a recent SilkRoad survey showing that employee referrals continue to produce the most hires overall, it’s clear to see why dedicating a large portion of your job search to networking is so crucial. You never know if your next networking connection could lead to a referral and a new job.

Because networking is so important to your job seeking success, I thought I would list a few important do’s and don’ts when comes to building your professional network connections.

Do…know your goal strategy. What is the purpose of you networking? What are you trying to accomplish? Knowing your networking goals is important because then you can build a strategy to reach each one. This strategy should include any deadlines, researching what groups and individuals to connect with, when and where to make these connections and how to sustain them. Also, don’t forget to track and measure your progress as a part of your goal strategy.

Don’t…wait until a crisis hits; effective networking should be a continual process. If you’ve never cared about building a network, you’ve been placing yourself in dangerous territory. What happens if you suddenly lose your job to downsizing or are terminated? If you haven’t built a network of connections, you’ll have a much harder time reaching out to people who can potentially help you in your job search process.

Do…be confident; find a role model or mentor you can emulate. Confidence is key in networking; just like in a job interview, you want to sell yourself to the contact you’re trying to make. If you lack confidence, seek out a role model or networking mentor you can learn tips from or even just observe during a networking event to see how it’s done.

Don’t…be a wall flower. Make an effort to socialize with co-workers at events. Although networking events, especially when you go alone, can feel like that awkward school dance where everyone is too shy to ask a partner to dance, they are from this. You’ll undoubtedly see a bunch of people talking and swapping business cards; jump right into the action. Set a goal for yourself; you can start small by challenging yourself to introduce yourself to three people and increase this number as you continue attending networking events. And once conversations start flowing, you’ll be surprised at how simple this networking process really is.

Do…Say thank you often and smile. Talk about what you are doing, your skills set and all you have accomplished. Smiling helps people feel comfortable and show that you are friendly and approachable. And constantly saying thank you demonstrates your appreciation for the other person’s time.

Don’t…ask for a job, ask for advice. Every job seeker wants a job, but the connection you make doesn’t always have the power to give you one. Nor do you want to ask someone for a favor such as getting you into a company when you’ve just met him/her an hour before. Asking for advice is your best and most beneficial option. Your network may not always be in the position to physically open a door for you, but the people in it can offer you advice on how to open the door yourself.

Do…make a good first impression. It only takes the first couple of minutes for a person to “size you up” and make an assumption about you. Be sure to make a good first impression because often this is what will keep the individual interested in continuing a conversation and a professional relationship with you in the future.

Don’t…be afraid to ask questions. Networking is all about meeting new people and those people may have a wealth of information and expertise that could help you personally and professionally. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Questions about occupation, goals and even educational backgrounds will open up the door for more in-depth conversations.

Do…follow up with a new contact as soon as you can. It’s pointless to take a bunch of business cards and never do anything with them. If you would truly like to develop a professional relationship with someone you just met, follow up with him or her as soon as possible. Remind the person of when and where you met and even suggest another casual meeting in the future. Also, don’t shy away from letting him or her know that you’re available if the person needs any help or assistance from you. This shows that you’re open to benefiting your new contact, and in turn, he or she will be open to using his/her talents to benefit you.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article for even more networking tips.

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Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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