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Networking 101: A How-To Guide for Jobseekers

22/07/2015
Mark Pearce, Fircroft’s Client Relationship Manager based in Perth, discusses the benefits of networking and tips on how to get the most out of networking events.
 
If you are new to networking it can seem like a daunting task when you are at a networking event, stood in a room full of strangers on your own; but don’t worry. The thought of having to approach someone unknown to you, coupled with the worry about what to say to them is commonplace even for the more socially adept amongst us. In our last blog we discussed why the best jobs go unadvertised and what you can do to find them, where we wrote a small section on networking and why having a network is essential for personal and professional success.

With this in mind, we wanted to explore this subject further in order to help job seekers planning on attending network events with some very basic tips, and to highlight the benefits of networking. Networking is more than swapping business cards, it’s about developing relationships that will benefit you and allow you to support and benefit others. Benefits of networking can include: 

  • Allowing us to meet new people. Through networking we can find new friends, business partners, mentors, clients and even future employers.
  • Connecting us with like-minded professionals and allowing us to share our knowledge and gain new skills along the way.
  • Enabling us to reach our personal and business goals by linking us with people who can help us achieve them, as well as helping others to achieve their goals.
  • Assisting us towards a work promotion, a career change or even finding our ideal job.
 
In no particular order, here are some of our basic networking tips to get you started:

Find an event where you will meet likeminded people

It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people go to events solely to network, only to discover that nobody with a similar job or in a similar industry is attending. Ensure that you seek out networking events where you will meet likeminded professionals. The conversation will be easier and you’ll connect with some great people to share common knowledge. 

Relax and be yourself

Before engaging in conversations about yourself or areas of expertise you can share, take a genuine interest in other people. When you find someone to connect with, ask questions about their industry, their company or particular aspects of their job role. You may wish to find out what they are currently working on that is interesting, or how they got into their line of work. By focusing on other people we forget about our own message, putting less pressure on us and enabling us to relax. Furthermore, we tend to remember people who take an interest in us, so ensuring you are memorable when interacting with likeminded professionals is a definite advantage.

Set yourself a realistic outcome you want to achieve from networking

Before attending a networking event, set yourself a realistic goal or an outcome that you want to achieve at your first function. This may be to speak and connect with five new people you don’t know, or it might be to leave your business card with two potential employers. Whatever you decide, don’t set your targets too high and make sure they’re realistic in the timeframe you have with that particular audience. Having a goal will ensure you are focused on an outcome, and as a result you’re less likely to be nervous and you’ll be more aware of reaching your objectives.

Be ready with a short and punchy description of yourself

At some point in the evening someone is going to ask you what you do for a living; this is your chance to tell them. Our advice would be as follows - rather than tell someone what you do over the course of 10 minutes, tell them in less than 10 seconds. Keeping it simple and straightforward ensures that you won’t forget it, and it also comes across as professional. An example might be; “I’m a Piping Engineer with ABC Company and I work on challenging brownfield scopes of work to maintain asset values.” Short and simple.

There are hundreds of other networking tips and techniques we can share, however we want to focus on some basic tips for jobseekers who are new to networking. In a future blog, we will revisit networking and share some tips and expertise from some of our readers, as well as some feedback from our local networking events. Please feel free to comment below if you would like your ideas and advice to be featured in a future blog.

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