Job searching involves a lot of networking which sometimes comes with awkward or sticky situations. Your ability to handle them with grace and style is vital to your success. Here are solutions to common networking situations, and ways to bring out your grace in the process.
Entering a conversation at a networking event. Look for a person who is standing alone and introduce yourself. Or look for a pair who are standing in an open position (not directly facing each other but at a “V”). Say “May I join you?”
Exiting a networking conversation. Try saying “I’ve really enjoyed talking with you. Do you have a business card?” After exchanging cards say “I don’t want to monopolize your time so I’ll let you mingle, but I look forward to keeping in touch.” Or, invite another person to join your conversation then politely excuse yourself once they are talking.
Reaching out to someone you would like to get to know. Begin with a mutual connection. For example, “My colleague George Jones suggested I contact you.” If you don’t have a mutual connection, let the other person know how you know them. For example, “I heard you speak at the convention last week.” Then make your intention clear. Try something like “I’m very interested in the research you’ve done on dynamic messaging and would like to talk with you further.” Never begin by pitching yourself or asking about job opportunities. Always build the connection first.
Inviting someone to join your LinkedIn Network. Customize the invitation with a reminder of how the person knows you, such as “We were in the business club together at the University.” Learn about the other person first before you ask for potential job opportunities.
Facilitating a connection. When you come upon two people you believe may have mutual interest or have good reason to connect, you may send an email to both of them making the introduction. You can have fun with it and make it formal such as “Matt, I’d like you to meet Sarah. Sarah, meet Matt.” Or you may say “I was thinking about the two of you the other night and realized your businesses are directly related so I’d like to introduce you two.” End by making clear you are leaving it to them to further the connection, or by suggesting the three of you meet if that is appropriate.
Asking someone for help with a job opening. If you come upon a job opening in a company where you already have a contact, you will probably want that contact to help you. Ideally you’ve been in touch with your contact over time so you’re not coming at him or her out of the blue. Let your contact know of the opportunity. Ask for insights into the position and the company. After dialog about the opportunity and your contact’s take on it, it may be appropriate to ask your contact to submit your resume for you or put in a good word for you. Respect your contact’s right to guide how deeply involved he or she becomes in helping you.
Thanking someone for a job lead that isn’t right for you or didn’t work out. Offer sincere thanks. Use your own judgment on how much detail to go into. Do make it clear that you appreciate their help and welcome future job leads.
Passing along a job lead. Sometimes you learn about of a job lead that isn’t right for you, but would be a great fit for someone you know. The other person may or may not be looking for new opportunities. You can simply say “I thought of you when I learned about this opportunity.” If you create a connection that eventually works out, you will have helped both the hiring company and the job candidate.
Tell us: What situations have you encountered while job seeking, and how have you handled them? How did you turn them into networking opportunities?