Saturday, May 26, 2012

SMARTER Networking

Networking without purpose is a waste of time.

Effective networking is a numbers game just as much as it is a game of strategy.   

In order to network effectively, it is critical that you identify the rationale for participating in the ‘sport’ of networking in the first place. 

Networking events generally fall into one of four categories:
  1. Social
  2. Professional - Industry related
  3. Professional - Personal development
  4. A combination of the bullets listed above

If you are a job seeker, attending a networking event for anything other than that which is listed above will be disappointing.   

It is unreasonable for anyone to attend an event, virtual or otherwise and expect that merely making contacts will lead to your dream job.  What I am about to say may sound controversial, but heed this, “Hiring managers seldom attend networking events.” 

The purpose of networking events is to connect with people and you should know that those people may or may not be able to help you if you are a job seeker.  Furthermore, no matter how well, you as a job seeker can deliver your clear and concise ‘Elevator Pitch’, you will never be able to demonstrate the depth of your skills or cite the credentials you have earned that can be applied to the particular position you seek.

Attending networking events can only do the following:
  • Demonstrate the job seeker’s verbal communications skills
  • Demonstrate the job seeker’s interpersonal skills
  • Give people the opportunity to exchange contact information/business cards

To expect that you, as the job candidate will meet your future boss at ‘cattle call’ networking event, although mathematically possible, is not likely.  [N.B. ‘Cattle call’ networking events are those that are not specific to the industry of the job seeker.  These ‘cattle call’ networking events are typically attending by salespeople who are interested in the job seeker as a potential customer and not a potential employee.]  

There is no reason to attend a networking event unless you do so with a specific purpose in mind, e.g. to connect with a particular person you believe will be attending the event. 

Purposeful networking dictates that you integrate your SMART goals into your networking attending strategy.  Your SMART goals should be akin to the following:
S - Specific - e.g. I plan to exchange information with X at the event
M - Measurable - I plan to exchange information with three people at the event
A - Achievable through actions - I plan to exchange information with three people at the event by arriving early
R - Reasonable - I plan to exchange information with at least three people at the event by arriving early
T - Time-bound - I plan to exchange information with at least three people at the event by arriving early and taking the time to ensure that my goal has been achieved before I leave the event

 N.B. Advanced SMART Goals are SMARTER goals.  Once you have become accustomed to creating and achieving your SMART goals, you can then take add the following steps:
E - Evaluate - Identify why or why not you were successful in achieving your SMART goal
R - Refine and/or Repeat

Networking is an on-going game that should be played when you are already employed.  To start playing AFTER you lose your job is akin to ‘closing the barn door after the horse has bolted’.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at