Developing Your Career

Career

How to Find Your Networking Mojo

By Greg Simpson on May 29, 2014

Since 80% of openings are never publicly advertised, an extensive network may be your most essential job search resource. Recognizing this fact, however, is easier than acting on it. Asking respondents to name the key challenge holding them back, a recent LHH survey identified four major impediments to networking success. What are they and what can you do about them?

  • Identify potential networking partners. Thirty-one percent of respondents indicated they didn’t know where to start. Where do you find a partner? The short answer is not behind a computer. Get out in front of people. Join a professional organization and attend meetings.
  • Create a clear strategy at networking meetings. Twenty-five percent said they were unclear on how to approach a networking event. You need a plan. Research who’s attending and set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet. Know what questions to ask and how to add value to the conversation. Have your elevator pitch ready and rehearsed. You don’t want to ask for a job; just be alert to referral opportunities.
  • Make initial contact by phone or e-mail.  Twenty-four percent expressed reluctance to connect with potential partners. Overcome social awkwardness by asking people you already know to give referrals or make introductions.
  • Build confidence at networking events. Twenty percent cited feeling awkward about drawing attention to themselves in group settings. The key is to practice your self-presentation repeatedly. Start with people you know and then widen your sphere. LinkedIn offers a low-pressure forum for honing your performance.

A strong network doesn’t grow by itself. You need to be proactive. Make sure you’re devoting the right amount of attention and energy to your networking strategy.

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