How to Be a Better Networker
Networking is important when you are looking for a job. Research suggests that 80 percent of people get their jobs through their network, according to a report on ABC News. But how can you become a better networker? AOL Jobs spoke with Laura Labovich, founder and chief career strategist of Aspire! Empower! Career Strategy Group for some recommendations.
Q. Why do people hate networking?
A. People hate networking because, so often, it comes across as disingenuous. As my friend, Lynne Waymon, from the organization Contacts Count, would say: "Talking and taking, instead of teaching and giving." Networking, done incorrectly, can appear selfish and salesy.
Q. What are the biggest mistakes people make when they network?
A. They aim to make each conversation a sale. They want to convert the person with whom they are networking into a believer and ambassador of their products or services, but this sort of transformation does not happen overnight. Their behavior says, "Hey, would you like to hire me? I'm pretty great, you know"; or, "Have you seen any clients around, because I could really use another client!" But they are missing the authenticity, the true relationship. Not everyone needs to be a client to be a good contact.
Q. What are some tips for being a better networker?
A. It takes a meaningful, honest, authentic exchange of dialogue between two people to turn a stranger into an advocate. Specifically speaking about job search, it is so common for job seekers to want to immediately get the interview, rather than make the conversation interesting so that the relationship can be nurtured and can continue to grow.
Q. Any suggestions for networking effectively in non-corporate sectors (e.g., blue collar workers, recent grads, moms returning to work)?
A. The same principles do apply; for example, a mom returning to the work force ought to consider reaching out to her network before she needs it. A good practice, or habit, to get into is to log onto Linkedin and check the newsfeed, then comment on what she reads. This will build and nurture relationships, and her network will not feel as if she just "wants something." I advise my clients to send personal e-mails when you see that your colleagues have made job changes on Linkedin, simply to congratulate them, ask about what the job will entail, and inquire if they are excited. When you initiate a conversation with a former colleague or other, it's best to have it NOT be about yourself.