Networking one of the most important aspects of the job hunt. We recently found this really helpful article on the art of networking by Hayli Morrison on http://www.mediajobmarket.com.
Networking: Solutions to Make the Right Connections
by Hayli Morrison
“Become genuinely interested in other people,” wrote Dale Carnegie in his best-selling self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie used real-world examples to show readers just how much they could benefit by putting the needs and interests of others before their own. But to identify the needs and interests of others, a person must first learn to listen. As Manhattan-based attorney and author Alan L. Sklover put it, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
Inadequate listening skills are one of the most common faux pas of networking, according to Ben Yoskovitz, CEO and co-founder of StandoutJobs.com. Too often, conversation focuses on irrelevant small talk about the weather, or focuses solely on what one person has to offer. Sincere, balanced discussion about each person’s offerings, interests and needs will facilitate a breakthrough to truly effective networking.
“If you go in with the idea of selling yourself very strongly, it generally won’t work,” Yoskovitz said. “If you’re looking for work, you’re going to be a little more aggressive, but it’s risky. It generally works better when you go in knowing how you can help people. You have to be willing to help other people first, and they will be more willing to help you.”
The old adage is true: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” For reporters and editors, networking can fill out the Rolodex with more contacts and sources. In turn, this can lead to better stories and maybe even help obtain an award or promotion. Self-employed workers can boost their business like never before with a better reputation, more customers, more money and more vitality, all with a little networking. Ultimately, networking can help get jobseekers and their resumes shuffled to the top of the stack and quickly in the door for an interview.
“No matter what you do from a job hunt perspective – or on the reverse, no matter what a company does – at the end of the day, referrals are generally the number one way of hiring people,” Yoskovitz said. “The only way to generate referrals for yourself is to network. Get out there, meet people, and help other people so they will help you in return.”
How to network?
As good as it sounds, “getting out there” is the part that stumps many professionals. In a day filled with meeting demands and deadlines, it can be tough making time to consciously meet, greet, listen, and engage in conversation. How does a person network when they barely feel like being around other people after a long hard day?
“You can’t go into a networking event without the intent of walking up to people and starting a conversation, and it’s not easy,” Yoskovitz said. “You have to go into a room with the mindset of, ‘I’m going to talk to everyone in this room. I have something to offer.’ I think you can go in with a lot more confidence that way.”
Where to network?
Try networking where you are comfortable and where other people in your profession might be found. Professionals who follow the same career path often have similar personality traits that can create a feeling of connectedness. Therefore, without neglecting the networking benefits offered by general business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, focus more energy on networking within industry-specific groups.
While in-person interactions will never go away completely, networking web sites like LinkedIn and Facebook have soared in popularity. Rather than dealing with the song and dance of face-to-face networking, many professionals are tuning out and logging on. Online networking is good because the pool of potential contacts is much broader, but it is best when coupled with local networking, according to Yoskovitz.
“I’ve got 500 friends on Facebook and over 500 contacts with LinkedIn. The question is, ‘What value is that to me?’” he said. “A lot of people will get hooked on being online and not necessarily extract everything they could from that. It can be a great door opener if you can translate online contacts into success locally.”
So with networking, too much of an introverted approach will get nowhere, while an overly-extroverted approach (i.e. too much talking, not enough listening) can alienate people. Listening and engaging, mixed with a little kindness and consideration, can go very far in making an impression. In turn, making an impression will go very far in making friends and influencing people.