Networking Best Practices

We’ve all been there: at the business networking meeting, trying to speak with as many people as possible, trying not to look too “desperate” as we research new job opportunities, but feeling all the same as if our “secret” is out and believing everyone there pities us and sees the great “L” for “Loser!” stamped on our forehead.

No wonder “networking” can be so painful!

Yet there is a better way, one that actually can be fun and truly beneficial for you and for everyone with whom you network.

Below are some tips:

“Networking” is frowned upon by so many because so many of us go about it all wrong. We network only when we have to — such as when we’re looking for another position or a new client.

Instead, look at networking as a way that you can offer value. Look at networking as a way for you to meet new friends and colleagues.

Networking really is all about the exchange of information. Who’s hiring. Who needs a CNC machinists in Portland. Who’s looking for a great mechanic for their SUV.

So look at networking as a way to get — and give — valuable information.

Consider joining one or two professional organizations in your area. You may want to make one of them an organization with a nationwide presence in case you move out of your area. Aim to attend these groups’ events and/or meetings at least once a month.

In addition, ask friends and family for ideas about different people they know whom they believe you’ll find interesting. These can be professionals or just interesting people (you love to watch Glee for example, and your sister-in-law has a new coworker who’s also a “Gleek”).

See if you can meet with this new person. In fact, aim to meet with at least one new person at least once a month.

Here’s the truth: people really do want to help others. Truly. We love to give advice because it makes us feel useful. It tugs at our need to feel important and wise.

Don’t forget, however, that you also have something to offer. Think about what you can give that person in return. Ask a lot of questions and you’re certain to find something you can offer that person, even if it’s the name of a great mechanic, a DVD of Glee’s first season, or a lead on a great CNC machinist in Portland.

In other words, aim to give as much — or more — as you get.

If you’re meeting this person for coffee or lunch because he or she may be able to help you professionally, then be sure to pay. This puts you on a much more equal footing.

Write a thank you note as soon as you can (no later than two days) after your meeting. If you can tell your new acquaintance that you contacted the person she recommended, or that you took the step you suggested, all the better.

Be sure to say that you’ll keep the person updated as to your progress. And then be sure to do so. In fact, we recommend that you ask to see the person again at least every six months or so. Circumstances change and who knows, you may then be in a position to help someone else in a new job or client search.

When you’re looking for the aforementioned CNC machinists in Portland, or mortgage processors in Chicago, or bookkeepers in Anchorage, contact the OptiStaffing Group. Our database of available professionals grows larger each day. We look forward to hearing from you!

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