The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking (part 2)

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business people group change business cardsIn part one of this article we looked at Lou Adler’s advice to job seekers to use the 20/20/60 job seeking strategy. This means job seekers spend 20 percent 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.”

And because research backs up Adler’s beliefs of the importance of networking, I offered a few important do’s and don’ts when it comes to building your professional network. Below are a few more tips that will lead you to networking success:

Don’t shy away from exploring online network groups like LinkedIn. LinkedIn recently reached a huge milestone of 300 million members, which means the professional network has a ton of professional online groups that you can explore. Don’t be afraid to see what’s out there in the online space as more and more businesses and professionals are using LinkedIn for sourcing top talent and job searching.

Do…learn to listen attentively. When networking, don’t approach someone and talk to him or her just for the heck of it. Actually engage the person in an interesting and meaningful conversation. You don’t go to networking events just to score business cards and build an informal contact list. If you talk to someone, listen attentively to what he or she is saying so you can better understand his or her interests, skills, talents and needs. This is very important when networking because you not only want to learn about an individual’s background and skills to better understand how the connection can benefit you, you want to understand what he or she needs so that you, as a connection, can benefit him or her.

Don’t…be a know it all. No one likes a know it all. When networking, be open to listening and learning. Don’t tell the people you connect with about how much you know in every conversation, i.e. don’t make every conversation about you. Making connections is about potentially building relationships, not about one person overpowering conversations with his or her “expertise.”

Do…periodically reconnect with contacts. You can send holiday cards, a professional or industry article your contact would be interested in or even a friendly hello email. Don’t allow your relationships to dwindle; be sure to periodically keep in contact with your network, even if it’s just to update people on current events in your career or learn about what’s new in theirs.

Don’t…join tons of networking organizations; two or three should be enough. Become a part of the membership, marketing or programming committee in your networking organization. These areas are where you build relationships that may help you find a job or mentor.

Do…only put things on Facebook and other social media sites that will promote you in the most positive light to all who read it. We all know the importance of our online reputation, and nowadays, it’s second nature for a person to Google you or look at your LinkedIn profile before or after meeting you. Just as you wouldn’t want a potential employer to find anything that would discourage it from hiring you, you don’t want potential connections to be discouraged from adding you to their network based off a questionable online presence.

Do…build friendships by being a person of integrity and trust. One of the most important aspects in building a relationship is trust. Your network connections have to be able to trust you, knowing that you have integrity and their best interests in mind when it comes to being connected. Don’t break trust in your networking relationships; always remain honest in your dealings when networking.

Don’t…engage in networking with a “self interest only” mindset. Again, networking isn’t just about what you can get out of the relationships and connections, but also what you can give. This process is a two-way street so don’t engage in networking with a “me me me” mindset.

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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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