To a large degree, the modern job candidate exists in a world of anonymity. Curated social media profiles, online applications reviewed and assessed more and more by algorithms, and automated email responses are all valuable tools for most employers; however, such detached interactions leave most job seekers feeling alienated. Once upon a time, face-to-face networking was the modus operandi for job candidates. In today’s informationally overloaded and impersonal world, it could once again be the best method for sidestepping the digital frenzy and forging meaningful professional relationships.
Face-to-face networking is as powerful a tool as it was two decades ago, but it’s become something of a lost art. Here are a few tips for improving your face-to-face networking skills to propel your job search:
Aim to Learn Before Aiming to Impress: When you’re engaging in conversation with a colleague or a professional contact, make it your primary goal to listen as attentive as possible rather than speaking as much as you can.
Be Equipped With Business Cards: It’s hard to overstate the short-term and long-term utility of having a personal business card — with your name, phone number, and email address — on you while you’re networking. People’s memories are often far less reliable than they believe, so having a tangible record of you will greatly increase the chances of them connecting with you in the future.
Reach Out: After establishing a connection with someone in person, following up with a short, friendly email is a great way to keep the dialogue going. When you’re reaching out, be sure to be specific and reference something that was discussed in your initial conversation.
Have an Intention: Before you set out to meet people, be sure that you’re clear and confident in the specific ways your expertise will benefit them, and how they’ll be able to help you in turn. Having these details mapped out beforehand will make you much more relaxed than if you were simply starting out not knowing what a mutually fruitful relationship might look like.
Get the Ball Rolling: If you set up the meeting with a goal in mind (as you should be if you’re networking with intent), don’t make your contact be the one that has to break the ice. By arriving to the meeting early and starting the conversation by laying out your background and your vision for what a beneficial relationship might look like, you’ll make a positive impression as a confident and efficient asset that people will want to work with.
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At RightStone, we’re working with IT candidates and top employers to make connections that last. If you’re ready to start looking for your next exciting role in IT, we’re here to help.