Job seekers are well aware that networking is critical, but it can be intimidating. Even people who enjoy being social can find themselves tongue-tied when they have a goal in mind other than just chatting.
Networking can be more enjoyable if you do a couple things ahead of time.
- Set goals before going to the event such as: I intend to make contact with 3 new people
- Prepare a number of questions and conversation starters
Think about what you’re trying to get out of the networking event and come up with a list of relevant questions . The idea is to gain information that you can’t find via google search or a company website and to build rapport with your new contact. Questions could include:
- How did you get started in your career, and what path did you take to get where you are?
- What made you choose your profession?
- What advice would you give me about being successful in your line of work?
- What are the opportunities to find other jobs like yours?
- What do you love most about what you do?
- What separates you from the competition?
- What was the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?
- What do you see as the coming trends in your profession?
- What would make someone an ideal employee for your company or organization?
- What are the biggest challenges affecting your field or company?
- What resources or books do you read up on or organizations do you belong to in order to stay up to date in your field?
- Is there anyone else you can suggest speaking with to learn more about your field or company?
Use variations of these questions and pick and choose your questions depending on the situation. Customize your questions to the individual and sound natural. Listen to the answers and respond. Make it a dialog, not just a long list of questions. Remember, you may ask one great question that leads to such an intriguing conversation, that you learn a lot, make a great new contact and never have to pull another question from your prepared list!
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