Even in the age of technology, prospective employers and people who refer you to them still want to meet you in person and evaluate how you interact professionally. You will most likely spend a great deal of time with your colleagues, and your networking contacts do not want to hurt their own reputations by referring someone who proves to be difficult in the workplace or behaves inappropriately in professional settings.
Beyond having the skills necessary to do a job, being fun to hang out with or at least pleasant to be around makes you that much more attractive as a candidate. Many who make the effort to network find the process to in fact be enjoyable meeting with professionals who share your interests can lead to fascinating discussions.
Becoming engaged in friendly conversation can be a huge advantage in networking, but it is important not to lose sight of either the context or the goal. Remember that you are being evaluated as a potential colleague. Basic courtesy goes a long way. Put yourself in their position and be respectful of peoples time. Be deferential rather than a know-it-all. Thank them after the fact and follow up on their suggestions.
Realize It Will Likely Take Longer Than You Expect
Employers routinely take far longer to fill positions than seems reasonable to candidates, and networking takes time. Even in a strong economy, a job search can take from six months to a year and often longer. No matter how frustrated you become during this time, you obviously want to avoid coming across as trying too hard or, worse, desperate as you network to find a job you want.
Particularly after youve invested the time and effort to network, apply and interview, it is important to get back out there with a good attitude. It can help to remember that in retrospect many professionals describe not being hired into a particular position as a blessing in disguise. Take a deep breath and dont panic.
Of course, you may have to take a position temporarily in order to pay the bills. So long as you dont take out your frustration on people in a position to help you, doing so doesnt bar you from eventually getting the job you want it is not uncommon to have to work in a position as a stepping stone to the path you want to take.
Leverage the Contacts You Make
Regardless of your career path, it behooves you to remain acutely aware of the need to develop networks and to seek out and take advantage of every opportunity to gain such skills. Over time, networking not only can help you land your next job, plan your career path, and lead to future clients, but can eventually put you in touch with contacts you want to hire as you become more senior.
Dont let the results of your networking efforts fall apart. Keep in touch with people who gave you information during a job search. Let them know where you land, and once youre settled, be sure to agree to meet with future candidates who contact you to request an informational interview.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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