ALC Consulting

March 17, 2009

Attending Networking Meetings and Actually Networking!

Filed under: Contracting,Uncategorized — Anne Cloward @ 11:39 pm
Tags: , , ,

So you heard all about networking, and you are ready to attend a meeting, but wonder how to make the best of it?

Unlike a 12 step meeting, you do NOT want to remain anonymous. You want to be recognized and talked about. The purpose of a networking meeting is to meet people, people who know other people and who can help you make contacts that can lead to jobs. You also know people who are working and you should be prepared to share your information. Networking is the exchanging of information.

There are some ways to maximize this experience.

Prepare yourself

Before you go to such a meeting, sit down at your PC and be ready to do some printing. First, print out your résumé. Make several copies. Check it for typos and accuracy. Then print out some business cards. You don’t own a business, so why should you do that? Because you are going to meet people who will want to connect with you or people you want to connect with. If you don’t have any, go down to Office Max and buy some blank business cards. Avery makes nice one. They also have some templates online at their website that you can customize. All you have to do is select a layout, enter your contact information and print. Just enter your Name, your Job title, and contact information, including email address. Most serious job seekers have a separate email address that is reserved for work. Get one. Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail are all free. Skip the cutesy name, (Joesixpack, suszeebutterfly). You are an adult looking for a job, sound like one.

If you haven’t already, prepare your 30 second—one minute introductory speech. Use positive language; say what you can do, and what you are looking for. If you worked for one of the larger firms in the area, mention that. Avoid negative language. See if you can get that chip off your shoulder. It shows. Your body language should project confidence.

The night before your meeting, lay out your clothes or at least check them out. Dress as you would for a business meeting, since this is one. A clean pair of slacks, a nice clean top, something with buttons all the way down. Put on some better shoes than the running shoes you have been living it. Shave, take a shower and clean up a little. Women should also dress accordingly. You want to show you are serious about your search.

Plan to meet lots of people

Some people have the idea that job networking meetings are only for people who are out of work. That’s not true. I can honestly say that there has been one person at every meeting I have attended who is NOT a job seeker, but someone who is hiring. He or she may be looking to meet people just like you. They are hiring managers, project managers and recruiters. They attend these meetings to get to know who is out there looking.

Work the room

There are certain things you can do that can call positive attention to yourself and help you get more out a meeting. Come early and find a seat in the front of the room. Bring a notebook and pen to take notes. Listen to the guest speakers. You can always learn something that will help you. Accept and pass out business cards. When it comes time to introduce, yourself, stand up. Face the direction of the greatest number of people. Speak clearly and project your voice. Be specific if you need to know something or someone. (I am looking for contacts from XYZ corporation, since they need a project manager.)

When someone makes a request that you can respond to, offer to help and meet up with the person after the meeting. You might have a neighbor who works at XYZ, or your poker pal does. Offer to introduce them to each other. Speak to the guest speaker. Tell him or her that they did a good job. Even if a recruiter doesn’t have a position for you, new job orders come in daily. Get a card to send your résumé. If someone asks if you are on LinkedIn and wants to link up, decide if you want to meet that way. If you haven’t joined Linked in (Linkedin.com ), put that on your to do list. If someone hands you a business card, make a note on the back if you discuss something and promise to help.

Follow up leads and commitments

After you get home, you are not done with this meeting. Empty your pockets, wallet or purse and take all those business cards you picked up. Sort though the ones you promised to connect with and do that right now. Send information, your résumé, and links, whatever. Remind people of where you met and that you are following through with your commitment to send them this information. If someone promised to send you something, send that person an email reminder.

Do this each time you meet. After a while your inbox will be buzzing with links, contacts and leads.

Read the materials passed out. These contain the distilled wisdom of people who know what they are talking about. Learn from them.

And come back next week.

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3 Comments »

  1. Not bad Anne. One thing though, you need to be careful with the idea of writing on someone’s business card. In certain cultures that is taken as an insult. Never, never make the mistake and do it in front of the person. Do it after you have parted ways. If you must write immediately, use one of your own cards for the notes or your notebook.

    Number 2 – a network meeting is not the time to eat. Eat before you arrive and avoid the goodies. I know it’s tempting but have you ever tried to shake a hand while juggling a drink and plate. I speak from experience it doesn’t work.

    Number 3 – Don’t just say that you don’t want to link to the person on LinkedIn. You never know who that person may have in their list of contacts, it may be the contact you need. You can always refuse or even disconnect at a later time.

    Comment by Tom Staskiewicz — March 18, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Reply

  2. Anne, You have a lot of GREAT information here. Thanks for sharing!

    Dave Slaymaker

    Comment by Dave Slaymaker — April 23, 2009 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  3. I wish I’d come across this before attending my first networking meeting. As it is, one key element you mention – come dressed professionally – is the one thing most job seekers seem to ignore. That’s frankly amazing to me; we, the un- or under-employed, must ALWAYS be “on task” and any meeting under any circumstance could be with someone who can help us find a job. That is never more true than networking meetings, which are specifically intended to help us find a job. And yet, people tend to show up in faded T-shirts, stained jeans or shorts and old shoes. No wonder they’re having trouble getting people to take them seriously.

    Comment by Jeff Smith — June 12, 2009 @ 5:13 pm | Reply


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