Goal of networking
What is networking? You know you are supposed to network, but has anyone explained how to network? Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand what networking is all about. Once you understand the ultimate goal, you’ll become much more comfortable with the whole process. That’s what we’re here for!
What is the goal of a networking meeting? Let’s get one thing really clear: it isn’t to land a job offer. Not yet, anyway. The goal of networking is to build new relationships, keep relationships current, or rekindle old relationships. It should be a two-way street where the parties walk away feeling like they both got something out of the meeting. Our network might have gotten us an introduction or landed a job, but what did we do for our network? The people we reach out to and who help land us a job this time will probably be the same people that help us with a job the next time. We need to give back to the network. At the very least, we need to offer help back.
The goal when networking is not to land a job offer or even ask for a job. The goal is to establish a relationship and maintain and strengthen it.
A silly dating example
If we are interested in a long-term relationship with a potential significant other, the goal of the first date isn’t to get to get engaged, married, or decide on your unborn children’s names. The goal is to land the second date. The first date is just an at-bat and we need to round the bases to get to home plate.
The goal of the networking meeting is to learn about each other. So researching our network on LinkedIn, Google searches, company web pages, and knowing about the products or services they work in are good places to start.
The goal isn’t to land a job
We shouldn’t expect to land a job offer after a 30-minute networking meeting. The goal of networking is to land a second meeting that will go into more depth and explore more ideas.
Like anything, we get out of our network what we put into it. Asking the following questions will let your network know you are there for them. These small gestures go a long way in what should be a two-way relationship.
- Are you looking for any introductions to specific people, industries, or disciplines?
- How can I help you? What can I do for you?
- What can I teach, show, demonstrate for you?
- Cake and cookies are always good.
- If you are meeting over coffee, buy the coffee!
Key Takeaway: When you are networking and meeting someone for the very first time, the goal isn’t to land a job offer. The goal is to get to know each other and establish a relationship. If there is a chemistry or a fit, there can be a second meeting and this is where we can start to go into the details of a specific opportunity. Go in with the right expectations: take your time, plan for it to take a while, and enjoy yourself. If you are genuinely engaged and even having some fun, the person you are meeting with will pick up on this. Smile, laugh, be yourself and relax.
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