A couple weeks ago I met with a contractor for coffee. He was recommended to me by a mutual acquaintance. Fifteen minutes in, he actually told me he had no idea why we were meeting. He didn’t understand the value of networking!
For every job that’s filled through a posting or recruiter, dozens are filled through word of mouth and relationships. In the IT contracting world, it’s even worse. Networking is how you access those jobs. Even if you’re not in the job market or trying to sell your services, it’s important to continue networking.
Networking is not about selling. It’s not about getting the next job. Networking is about meeting interesting people and developing relationships. Once a relationship is there, people buy from people they know. They recommend people they can trust.
Some people, more often sales people and entrepreneurs, will have some “training” in networking. This may include all the “correct” steps to quickly develop a relationship, explain what you do and what the “perfect connection” would look like for you. Yes, I to have been to a BNI meeting (once). This formula often feels contrived and doesn’t build relationships.
Instead, try actually getting to know the person. Of course, bring your elevator pitch and stories with you; those are important tools. In the real world, use them as crib notes when timing works. Focus on listening. Take the time to check out their online profiles before the meeting so you can ask intelligent questions.
Find networking events in your area. These can be professional meetings, like our Vancouver Technology Leaders meetings, vendor sponsored ones, or industry specific events. Linkedin and Meetup are great places to find groups. Become involved in the group and meet more people.
Networking really is one of the best things you can do for your career. Are you out there?
- Networking 101: Treat business events like a first date from the Globe and Mail
- Networking for Freelancers
- Networking 101 for IT Leaders
After the holidays, making the most of Mentors!