In order to build a credible reputation that makes people want to pass along your name, you need to demonstrate genuine interest in an area and be able to quickly and persuasively answer such basic questions as, What is it that youre looking for? Why does this area interest you? and What experience has prepared you for this type of work? Failing to answer these questions convincingly is likely to end the conversation sooner than you would like.
Be Fun (or at Least Pleasant) to Spend Time With
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.
James Jones, communications director for DC Vote, tapes a "DC Constituents Service Day" sign on the wall as he stands with other DC residents outside of Rep. Andy Harris's office on Capitol Hill to protest Harris' actions against D.C.'s marijuana laws on Thursday, July 24, 2014. DC Vote encouraged DC residents to bring their complaints about city services to the Maryland congressman.