Careers: Four Basic Rules of Proactive Networking

by Grace Tallar

Someone has convinced you to attend a networking session. So, you think: I can meet new people who can help me to find the right job. I have nothing to lose; I have to prepare a bunch of business cards and distribute them to as many people as possible and they will call me, right?

Wrong!

Weeks will pass with few calls, because effective networking is not just meeting people and exchanging business cards. It is a relationship with the right contacts. It is finding common denominators and taking the time to make sure that the person you are trying to attract becomes attracted to you.

How can you do this?

First, you must know your specific career goal. Let people know what you are looking for. We all have a lot of skills and talents; with them we must form the specific set of competencies required for a particular position.

The second rule is to find the right places for networking. You should find associations, seminars, conferences, and professional groups from your area of expertise. These people will be able to recognize your skills and talents. An accountant, for instance, might not appreciate your particular achievements, if you are an engineer.

The third rule is to help your new contacts get what they need. You must help others before you can expect to be helped. Do the research: how can you assist others, and build rapport with them? If people do not like you, they will not help you. Sense if your personalities are compatible. Once you start to assist others, they will assist you in return. Consider this an emotional “deposit”; the more people you help, the bigger your return in life.

The fourth rule is to maintain long-term relationships. We will all change jobs many times, and networking becomes our best support system. Learn everything you can about each of your valuable contacts. Who is this person? What are his/her goals and priorities for the next year? What has to be solved or improved? Keep in touch, especially when you have a job. As Harvey McKay wrote: “Dig your well before you are thirsty.” It is much wiser to be proactive and plan your career, and much easier to ask for a new lead, while you are still working.
Always create opportunities to expand your network.

Grace Tallar, M.A. – Career consultant for newcomers, author of several books on networking. The art of networking is presented in her latest book Get Hired on Demand. An Advanced Career Guide for Internationally Trained Professionals.

CNM