So, you decided it’s time to find a new job and you’re ready to get some interviews. As you send resumes via online company sites, job boards, and reconnect with old acquaintances on LinkedIn, don’t forget another important component to the job search—face-to-face networking.
While today’s job search may revolve around Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and finding the right key words—don’t forget the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
And in-person conversations tend to leave the strongest impression. One or two in-person conversations can be all you need for a successful job search, so I’m going to share five face-to-face networking tips that will help you immediately at meetings, networking events or just a casual lunch or coffee with a colleague.
While you may have been fired, experienced a company closing, or worked for a horrible boss, this is NOT the time to discuss it. Don’t bad-mouth your ex-employer for former boss. Even if it is true, you look like a disgruntled employee and the one with the issue. Instead, mention that while you enjoyed working with ABC Company, it was time to move on and take-on a different challenge. When meeting with people in-person this is especially important, as they can read your body language and see your reaction. The focus should be on the future—not the past.
And this is going to be great practice for your interview because you should do the exact same thing there. Badmouthing won’t get you hired. Ever.
Have you never attended a business after hours event for your local chamber of commerce? Can you serve as a guest or substitute for a local networking group? If you can and the thought of it makes you even slightly uncomfortable, then you should DO IT. When you are trying to stand out from the crowd and make an impact among companies, you need to take every chance that you can get. And, before you go to these types of events, remember to have your elevator pitch ready…
What is the first thing that most people ask you at a networking event? The answer: “What do you do?” So, if you are unemployed or looking for a new job, how do you answer this? Say something like the following, “I’m someone with X, Y, and Z skills and I’m ready to make an impact with my next position. Because of my experience with A, B, and C, I am excited to see my future career direction and look forward to connecting with others in the industry.”
Many of my clients get nervous when they think of giving an ‘elevator pitch.’ I tell them to remember two or three skills and two or three accomplishments or experiences that sets them apart from other job seekers. If they can remember this, then it takes nerves out of the situation and the pitch doesn’t have to be memorized.
Here’s a full article on how to create a great elevator pitch step by step if you want more help.
If you are not currently working, then make up a business card that can function as a contact card. It allows you to remain professional while leaving connections with your phone number and email address. Leaving something behind allows you to be memorable and provides them a way to follow-up with you. Speaking of follow-up…
I can’t say this enough—so MANY people do not follow-up with those that they have met. So send those follow up emails! (And get a business card from them so you have an email address to send it to.
Even if someone isn’t the ‘perfect’ connection right now, following-up shows that you care about meeting them, appreciate their time, and look forward to that continued relationship.
This is such a small thing you can do but it’s one of the most powerful face-to-face networking tips I can offer. After working with over 2,000 job seekers, I know one thing—it’s sometimes that tiny step that you think doesn’t make the difference that makes ALL of the difference. Follow-up is that thing in many cases.
Overall, it’s VITAL that you add face-to-face networking to your tool kit when seeking a new job opportunity. While you will most likely be applying online, it’s critical to still make those in-person connections and expand your horizons. You never know when the next person you meet could lead to your future job opportunity!
About this guest author:
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Feather Communications (http://www.feather-communications.com). She holds an MBA and PhD in Organization and Management, and has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. You can download her top 5 resume tips to get more interviews for free at this page.