Dark Side of Networking

I’ve seen quite a few articles extolling the virtues of networking as a job hunter. I personally think it’s an activity that those who currently have a job should do as well — but that’s besides the point.
I’ve attended a number of events that have afforded me opportunities to network and I’ve observed some networking strategies that I thought deserved to be blogged about.
First, you should ALWAYS have your business cards on you. Ok, you get a pass for not having one on you at the beach. But otherwise always you should always carry at least one business card with you at all times. You never know when or where you might bump into a potential contact or connection. This goes without saying at a networking event.
Second, follow up. Please follow up! I don’t understand why people go to networking events and then fail to follow-up on contacts they’ve made there. Following-up can be connecting with someone via Linkedin, following them on Twitter, or e-mailing them. You might not think it’s a big deal if you fail to follow-up. I mean: what are the chances of these people remembering you didn’t, anyway. But that is the problem: you want people to remember you in the context of networking and to think of you when they hear of job openings. The information profession isn’t that big and, in NYC anyway, we all know each other. You may not even realize it, but people may tell hiring managers to watch for your name.
On a related topic: apply for jobs at places where you already know people who work there. You never know what’s happening behind the scenes. Let’s say a colleague you met knows of a job opening in their organization. they might not email you to tell you to apply, but they did tell the hiring manager to look out for your name. But then if you don’t apply and they later run into you and find out you’re still looking, they may think less of you and be less likely to help you in the future. Don’t discount the impressions you give at these events, you never know what results they may produce.
Third (and lastly and probably the most important), networking isn’t just about landing a new job. It’s about forging and maintaining connections between colleagues. Networking doesn’t automatically lead to jobs and the people you meet networking can’t always give you a job. Networking is about being part of your professional community. If you network looking only for your next job, you may not find it. Worse yet, if you network with such single-mindedness it may give you a bad reputation.
One side note to networking: networking affords you an opportunity to showcase your soft skills. Those interpersonal assets that you can’t include on a resume and can’t always highlight at an interview can flourish by casting a wide net at networking events.
For more information on networking, check out Ellen Mehling’s recent article on elevator speeches: http://metro.org/articles/your-introduction-elevator-speech-and-origin-story-face-to-face-networking-tips/
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