Most execs I talk to claim networking events are a waste of time, awkward, and don’t get them any results. Well, Cut the Crap, Get a Job! Quite the opposite. The right events will not only be hugely efficient, but very effective if you know the right way and use your job search tools correctly. Here are some of the tips and tricks to success:
1. Be prepared, mentally and physically. Mentally, be prepared to walk up to strangers and have a confident-but-warm greeting with a smile. Don’t expect people to come to you and don’t go with a buddy that you hang out with at the bar. Physically, dress up in interview attire (remember that you are always interviewing!), and have business cards. If you are unemployed, print personal business cards with all of your contact information, including social media links. Don’t forget a small pad and a pen to take down their information, write notes about your conversation and anything else you learn at the event. Sometimes there is a speaker and you can follow up with them the next day, too.
2. Have your “elevator pitch” ready. Rehearse prior to going as you will feel more confident and, don’t worry, they won’t know it’s rehearsed!:
- Your entry: “Hello, I’m Jack, may I introduce myself? <go around the small group shaking hands, smiling, exchanging cards> Then, if it comes back to you, share your goal.
- Your goal: “I’m seeking a senior buyer position in Seattle with Nordstrom or Macy’s. Do any of you know anybody at these two companies?”
- Your close: Close every conversation with “how can I help you?” or “what brought you here and is there anything I can do to help you?” And, don’t forget to ask permission to follow up with them.
Your goal needs to be specific enough for the other person to engage. Include functions and company examples, when possible. Naturally, if the person you are meeting works for a company you would like to apply to (or have), then change your approach. “Ms. Jackson, I see that you work at Nordstrom; what do you do there?” <take notes!> “I know it is very busy here tonight, but do you mind if I follow up with you as I saw a job posting there that I am interested in applying to and would like some guidance before I do.”
3. Meet as many people as you can. But be sure to learn about them! Take at least one nugget away per person you meet so your follow-up e-mail can refer back to that. In your follow-up, you can repeat your goal as they probably will not remember and they may know somebody who knows somebody. Do NOT hand anyone a resume unless they ask, but it’s okay to have them in your folio just in case.
4. Drive the Follow Up Process with Precision: the A,B,Cs:
A. When you get home: Open up your computer and do the following:
- Start an Outlook Contact group with a color-code called “X Industry Event_<date>”
- Enter every person you met, even if you just got their e-mail address.
- In the notes section of the contact, write down the date you met them, the event name and anything about the conversation you remember.
B. The next day:
- Send an individual, personal e-mail to the people you met. The first sentence should reference the event the night before. “It was a pleasure meeting you at the X Industry Event last night”. “I was the one who shared my goal of securing a senior buyer position at Nordstrom or Macy’s here in Seattle.” “Additionally, I offered to help you with _____.”
- Ask for the next step. “May I set up a phone call or meeting with you to ask you some additional questions that may help me secure my dream job?” “Here are three options of times so you can just reply back with one that is most convenient for you.” (List 3 half-hour slots in the next 2-5 days: one on the next day, one the day after, one the day after that). “Or, feel free to select another block of time and I will move things around to call you.”
C. Once you secure a time from them, send them a meeting request via Outlook to lock it in. Put “Jack Jones connecting with Ms. Jackson” in the subject and cut and paste your entire e-mail conversation in the body of the e-mail. Always put your cell in case they have to move the meeting.
In summary, Cut the Crap, Get a Job and see more guidance on http://danamanciagli.com.