Networking is a critical part of any job search, but it can be the most challenging. Networking is hard work! It takes time and energy, and you rarely see results right away. So, here are a few tips to stay motivated and stay connected with the people who can help you find the perfect job opportunity.
1. Believe in yourself. Make a list of your positive attributes, your professional achievements, and your accumulated knowledge and skills. Post it in plain sight and review it any time your confidence falters. You are a terrific candidate! The more you believe that, the more other people will see it.
2. Practice your pitch. Effective networking begins with that 30-second story you tell about yourself, your education and your professional ambitions. Your pitch should be brief, compelling, and confident. Write it down, ask for feedback from trusted colleagues, revise it as needed, and practice until introducing yourself with confidence becomes second nature.
3. Keep a running list of networking targets and work it. Scour LinkedIn, Facebook, professional organizations and other sources for the names of people who may be helpful in your job search. Add to the list weekly, and keep track of every attempt you make to reach each person.
4. Create SMART networking goals. “SMART” goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-sensitive. For example, “Reach out to two professional contacts by email today,” or “Schedule an informational interview with one organization this week.” Breaking down the goal of “networking” into smaller objectives makes it easier to stay on track.
5. Play the numbers game. The more people you reach out to, the more results you’ll achieve. Salespeople follow the “Rule of 20,” which says that it takes 20 contacts to make one sale. In networking, expect to reach out to 20 people before one of them agrees to meet with or talk to you. Prepare for the “No’s” and focus on turning the “Maybe’s” into a “Yes.”
6. Take time off. Networking is energy intensive. If you’re tired or distracted or in a bad mood, take some time off to recharge. Reward yourself for the progress you’ve made and prepare for the work ahead, before you get burnt out.
7. Believe the investment will pay off. The time and energy you spend chatting with colleagues at networking events, writing emails to potential contacts, and making professional connections online will pay off eventually. You never know who will open the door to your next big opportunity.