Face to Face Networking

The art of networking is to find and talk to anyone who is in business that may be looking to recruit or may know someone who is looking to recruit. Many management and executive positions will not have been advertised or placed with a recruitment organisation.

Today though networking also embraces the social and professional networking websites and you will have to build your on-line profile carefully to ensure that search firms and employers can find you.

Face to face Networking is not just a room full of 'sales people' giving leads to each other, and nor is it doing deals on the golf course. It is about building relationships on which business is founded - don't forget that as well as face to face and it can also be on the telephone or by email.

It is said that as much as 70% of new jobs are found via networking so it is important that you engage in networking and prepare thoroughly for it. More people are hired by being at the right place at the right time and by speaking to the right people.

If you are going to events then develop a system for getting round the room with the least pain to you, particularly if you are not comfortable dealing with strangers. Most people are not natural networkers and can't walk up to any person in a room and strike up an interesting conversation.

So don't just talk to people you know but set yourself a goal of speaking to say 2-3 new people, which will help you develop new contacts. When you are asked what you do, have your ‘30-second commercial ready’, and give them a business card.

To become a good networker you should listen more than talk - as Dale Carnegie wrote in his bestseller "you can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years of trying to get people interested in you”.

It does take time to network and successfully build relationships so you cannot expect instant results from your efforts, however if you network correctly you will find that opportunities will start to come to you.

There are several excellent books about networking that you can find in your local business bookstore, such as Networking for Career Success by Diane Darling

How to Start

To network successfully you should start with the following:

  • Prepare your CV
  • Prepare and print business cards with your name, function and address/contact details on to give to people you meet (you can get free business cards from www.vistaprint.co.uk)
  • Always wear a suit/business clothes to any networking functions you attend
  • Speak to anyone you know - however casually - if you think they are in business (ie: work in a reasonably senior role for a company) and let them know that you are seeking a new opportunity
  • Speak to people you know at your sports club or gym
  • Join the local Round Table, Rotary or Lions Club
  • Find out where your local business breakfast club meets and join/attend
  • Find out if the professional association connected to your function or industry has regular meetings, chat rooms or forums and get involved
  • Join your professional association
  • Join the Institute of Directors if appropriate
  • Join a local networking club
  • Speak to the local Chamber of Commerce about events that they hold
  • Find out when the next exhibition for your industry is and attend it
  • Speak to your competitors
  • Write to local companies that you think would benefit from your experience
  • When you meet people they will naturally ask what you do - tell them and give them your card. Get their business card and when you get home email/write to them (and connect on LinkedIn) to say how much you enjoyed meeting them and mention that if they know anyone in your sector who needs help you would be pleased to do so
  • If you are between roles and get offered some short time contract or project work, take it - it may lead to other things and you never know who you might meet.
  • Subscribe to your professional or sector magazine
  • Find out the specialist websites for your sector that have job opportunities on them
  • Face to Face Networking - download the pdf