You’ve been asking your friends, coworkers, and family to pass your name along at work. You’ve tried reaching out to new job connections via cold calls and social media. You’ve met with a few people for informational interviews. But nothing is working.
The problem may be that your networking strategy isn’t working for you. Instead of walking blindly into networking, consider what you might be doing wrong and some ways to improve your networking strategies.
1. Your initial messaging is too long.
When cold calling a new networking contact, never introduce yourself in a long winded manner. This person doesn’t know anything about you, and they don’t need to know everything in the first 10 seconds of your call. Let them know how you found their contact information (i.e., share how you’re connected or who recommended you call them) and a little about who you are and then ask if they’re willing to talk with you about career advice or networking. Work with their schedule first before throwing out all of your information.
2. Your expectations are too high (AKA you’re asking for a job).
You may have found a great networking contact, but you can blow it fast if you’re too pushy. Never go into a networking call asking for a job right off the bat. It’s better to get to know your networking contact, let them get to know you a little, and find common ground. Only then will they know if they like you enough to pass you along to anyone else.
3. You’re not taking advantage of social media.
Social media is a hotbed of networking possibilities. If you’re not using LinkedIn to make new connections, such as the LinkedIn Introductions feature, you’re missing out. But LinkedIn isn’t the only great place to find new connections. Twitter can also be used to find jobs. Start following industry professionals and companies that you’re interested in. You’ll soon figure out who are industry leaders. These are the people you should try to engage with, such as sharing content, participating in Twitter chats, and building relationships and reputation.
4. You’re not targeting professionals to connect with.
Again, LinkedIn is a great way to see who your current job network is connected with. Utilize your connections with past coworkers and bosses, your school’s alumni, and friends to network into new companies. However, the true issue might be that you’re trying to network out of your league. While it’s great to try to connect with the CEO or VP of a company, aim your target a little lower first.
5. You’re not doing your research.
It’s important to do some background research on your new networking connections before reaching out. Nothing’s worse than having that first phone call or meeting for coffee and not knowing what you’re up against. So don’t think it’s OK to go into this without doing your research first.
6. You’re not following up.
Following up is an essential part of networking. You need to create a mutually beneficial relationship with your job contacts. So follow up with them every month or so to see how they are doing, share relevant industry research, or update them on your job search.
Hindsight is often 20/20. What were your biggest mistakes when networking?
For this post, thank you to our friends at Come Recommended.
Kristen Wishon holds an M.S. and B.S. in journalism with a concentration in public relations and a minor in art history from West Virginia University (WVU). Prior to joining Come Recommended, Kristen gained public relations, editorial and promotional writing, and social media experience through several health & pharmacy-focused internships in West Virginia.