Six Tips for Successful Networking By Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist

Six Tips for Successful Networking By Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist Today’s column comes from DavidBell, a successful job seeker who used
networking to help land a new job in the current economy. I asked him to explain the secret to his success, and he distilled his experience into six key points that can help you build abetter network :
1. Always remember that you’re
asking people for information, not a job Networking often goes bad because job seekers try to ask friends and strangers about specific job openings.
This puts people in an awkward
position – after all, if they don’t know you, they’ll naturally hesitate to recommend you for a job. When you make people uncomfortable by being too pushy online, you destroy any
opportunity you might get to meet face-to-face, or find out about new jobs openings in the future.
2. Start with people you know,
then expand to their
acquaintances and finally
strangers after the process
becomes second nature.
It’s important to practice on your
friend before moving on to people they suggest. Using a referral’s name
when you contact someone you don’t know can be very helpful in breaking the ice.
But you shouldn’t avoid networking with strangers just because you have no automatic “in” with them. As David
Bell points out, “Contact to everyone you can, whether it’s by email, social media sites like LinkedIn , Facebook and Twitter , or even over the phone.
You never know who’ll have the most useful information or take an interest in you. Aside from helping you find a job, it’s a wonderful way to make new
friends, especially if you’ve recently moved to a new city.”
3. When you reach out to a
contact, have in mind what
you want to say, but don’t
obsess about it.While the delay built in to most social network communication makes it
easier to “think before you speak,” some contacts you meet will prefer the immediacy of phone calls or instant messaging. In these cases, be prepared to give the name of your referral (if you have one), state why
you’re contact them (for information not a job) and ask a short list of questions about your contact’s area of expertise. Putting these thoughts together ahead of time can save you
the embarrassment of now knowing what to say.
However, be careful not to over-
prepare, since this can easily turn into an excuse for putting off your first contact. Or worse, you can get so married to a specific script that you blank when a conversation strays to
another subject. It’s the same as
reciting a memorized poem back in English class – if you’re too rigid, any distraction will cause you to lose your place and screw up.
4. Recognize that you’ll have
good and bad days. People won’t respond to your messages, or decline your requests to
chat. A few experiences like this, and you may begin to resist reaching out to key contacts for fear of being rejected. But don’t give up! Persistence and a sense of humor are key to successful networking.Maintaining your objectivity when you’re on a job search roller coaster is easier said than done, especially if
you are trying to do it alone. A good support system of friends, fellow job seekers, a career counselor, enjoyable activities etc. can be really helpful in
smoothing out the unrealistic highs and lows you’re bound to experience. And if you find yourself putting off networking because you just hate doing it, try to come up with a plan
that will be excuse proof. Promise a friend you will make 10 contacts a week, and give them reports on your progress. Dedicate time just for networking. Tell yourself you will
connect with 12 people before you do any other activities. Then reward yourself for sticking to your plan.
5. Prepare a specific topic for
each discussion. Do some research on the company,
industry or career of your contact. Put together a list of questions, including
some that deal specifically with their background. Ask for advice on your job search, and the names of other professionals who would be beneficial
to connect with. Think about ways you might help, like suggesting other contacts they might find useful.
6. If your contact refers you to
other people, keep in touch
about how the new connections are going. Your contact will feel gratified that their contacts were useful, and will admire you for seizing available
With a little practice and perseverance,networking can help you connect with
important people and positions much more effectively, and stand out in an increasingly crowded job market.

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