Originally appeared on Mocksource.com
So you went on LinkedIn and made a contact, emailed them asking to meet up for coffee and they agreed. So now what happens? Now you impress your contact and set up a foundation for a long-term professional relationship.
Networking is very much a numbers game. Some times you get the optimal result and other times you meet someone who is only interested in talking about them selves and less about helping you. Whatever the result, you have to stay positive and keep going. Careers are often born from meeting people who take a genuine interest in you. Show that you’re genuinely interested in what they do and talk about the initiatives you’ve taken to reach your goal.
It’s great to be a listener and ask inquisitive questions, especially questions that relate to personal experiences and opinions. When you show genuine appreciation for someone and the things they’ve done and are currently doing, it motivates them to go the extra mile for you. You’re making him or her feel important and every human being has an innate need for a sense of self-importance.
Now, first thing is first, dress in your best professional outfit, shine your shoes or heels and comb your hair. You want to come across as someone who the contact can confidently put in front of a client. Learn as much as you can about the person you’re going to meet and what they do so that you can put together a list of things to ask and discuss.
Some good topics include the contacts experience getting a job out of college, how they landed at their current firm, how they’re liking what they do and what specifically they like about it, as well as general advice on how you best position your self for a career in their industry or company. As well, asking them about the interviewing process and getting their advice on how to best prepare is invaluable as they can provide key insights into the process.
Remember, keep it professional and stay poised. Impress them with your knowledge on the industry, company and relevant events. Show genuine interest in working with and for them. Don’t ask them to forward your resume, they will likely offer to do it them selves. If they don’t, however, ask this question so that you lead them to offering to help you directly: “how can I best position my self to get an opportunity to interview with your firm.”
However, don’t make a resume referral your end all be all. Networking is not so direct and that’s why your primary goal should be to develop relationships by impressing your contacts. They’ll remember you when openings pop up or when people they know at other firms are hiring.
Image source: Coletivo Mambembe
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