Networking shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s one of the best ways to learn about an occupation, company cultures and changes in your choice of industry. However, keep in mind that networking is all about building relationships (not hitting people up for a job opening).
To help you build your network, here are some tips you may want to consider when planning a one-on-one network meeting:
Be brave — ask. Having the nerve to ask someone for a meeting is the first step in setting up an appointment. Make sure to be specific about the type of information you’re looking for to avoid miscommunication.
For best results, it is best to ask people on an individual basis through email or phone. Doing this makes it more personal and easier to book an appointment instead of sending out an email blast.
Prepare. Before meeting up with the person, make sure to do some research including his or her LinkedIn profile, publications, news releases, speaking engagements or other news articles. This will help you feel more comfortable during the meeting, instead of experiencing dead air during the first few minutes.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- How did you land your current job?
- What do you usually do during a typical day or week?
- What do you like most about your company or organization?
- What soft skills are needed to excel in your industry?
- How do you keep yourself updated?
- What hard skills are important to your job?
It is important to outline your agenda before meeting with someone. This will help you cover the important topics during the meeting, including the questions you most want to ask.
Establish a connection. Build rapport and trust by starting with small talk to establish a connection. You may use your research, current events or just about anything under the sun to get the conversation started. Make sure to include a discussion of the progression of his or her career. Don’t forget to listen, and ask follow-up questions before ending the meeting.
Follow up. After the meeting, don’t hesitate to send out a thank-you email or a short note through snail mail to show your appreciation. Don’t take this for granted. Thank-yous go a long way; they demonstrate courtesy and professionalism at the same time.