Networking is interacting with others to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to advance one’s career. According to a recent LinkedIn article, 85% of all jobs are filled through networking. Coaching is largely part of the hidden job market, which is accessed by networking. While networking may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s essential to success in today’s coaching industry. Below are some tips that should help you master the art of networking in any industry.
Before the meeting:
- Create Your Pitch. Your elevator pitch is a 30 second or less introduction that summarizes who you are and what you want to do while opening the door for additional conversation. Have a few sentences memorized that highlight who you are within 30 seconds. Timing is important, if your pitch is beyond 30 seconds you risk losing the listener.
- Set Goals. The ultimate goal should be relationship building but set small goals to stay focused. For example, finding out how each person your network got started in his or her field.
- Create a Target resume. Have a targeted resume prepared to hand out. Tailor it to your target audience or potential employer.
- Have business cards/contact information ready. Whether you are employed or not be sure to have plenty of business cards handy to pass out and exchange with others.
During the Meeting:
- Introduction and Body Language. Introduce yourself with your name and a firm handshake. Be sure to stand up tall and maintain eye contact.
- Be interested, not interesting. When you get that face-to-face or phone call show interest in what the other person does. This is a time to learn. Pay attention to all the different options that are out there and what a day in the life of a particular job looks like.
- Listen. You cannot hear valuable information if you are doing all the talking. Be an attentive listener and ask questions that reflect that you are listening.
- Do not ask for a job. Very few people hire on the spot. This can be a turn-off and you run the risk of losing a connection that could assist you with getting a job later or connecting you with someone they know is hiring.
After the Meeting:
- Take Note. Immediately after the event, write a short reminder of something that stuck out about the person you met on the back of each business card you have collected. If you don’t have a business card, keep a digital networking log in a spreadsheet.
- Follow-Up. Follow-up as soon as possible. Handwritten notes are preferred but a short email can allow for you to create dialogue with the person. Thank them for their time and the information they shared.
- Be Respectful of time. Be mindful of how much you contact someone or how much you ask of him or her. There are no rules for how many phone calls or emails you can send but it doesn’t hurt to ask the person to get an idea of what they’re comfortable with and how they prefer to be contacted.
- Build Relationships. Networking is a two-way street. Give the person a reason to want to help you. Think of things you can give or do for them.