With our very first HR Club Sydney networking event coming up (get tickets here), I thought it was only fitting that I blog about networking because let’s face it- sometimes it isn’t something we do that well in HR. We think we probably should be good at it, but we aren’t always willing to invest the time in having an actual conversation with people about their experiences because we are ‘too busy’. If I can liken it to the way that I think about my own work, I know that being strategic is where I’m going to get the most bang for my buck from my clients (although the transactional can you help me with my pay seems to be the most pressing issue at the time for the client).
And I think about networking in the same way. I value it as a strategic tool which assists my personal development- and that’s why I invest time in social networking, blogging and attending events.
I’m lucky enough to have a guest post today from Anne Marie Cross who is a Career Coach & Personal Branding Strategist, Consultant, Speaker, and Author of ’10 key steps to Ace that Interview!’ She is also the founder/principal of Advanced Employment Concepts – Career Management and Personal Branding Strategists offering powerful programs for people striving for career success and fulfillment, as well as savvy companies committed to building and retaining their most important asset – their staff.
Alongside Keith Keller, Anne Marie co-hosts Career Communique Radio which is a community page committed to providing inspiring career-related topics to support individuals in accelerating their level of success in the job market and the workplace. Check out the website for podcasts of the radio show, articles, forums and event details.
With a tightening job market numerous job seekers have increased their networking endeavours with the hope of tapping into the hidden job market, where 70-80% of unadvertised opportunities are located.
While networking should be an integral part of your search (and overall career management) efforts there are some secrets which can make a significant difference between not really generating much success and the potential for networking burnout in comparison to building influential and productive relationships that open the doors to potential job opportunities.
To avoid networking burnout, ensure you’re adopting the top ten effective habits of highly successful networkers.
A highly successful networker:
1. Is clear on their job/industry target and can clearly articulate this when seeking support or communicating with members of their network.
2. Has a clear understanding of their personal brand, their unique selling proposition and can professionally communicate their brand both in person and in online networking opportunities.
3. Has up-to-date personal marketing material, (which can include professional resume, bio, leadership addendum, web portfolio, personal blog, and profiles on multiple social networking platforms) that highlights achievements and value offered to a potential employer.
4. Is able to speak confidently (not arrogantly) about their strengths and successes so that potential hirers are able to grasp the WIIFM (what’s in it for me – the company) should they be lucky enough to have you on their team.
5. Has a powerful and memorable ‘marketing pitch’ that can be utilised as an introduction to networking events and that question ‘So what is it that you do?’
6. Has a written strategic networking plan that encompasses regular attendance of both online and offline networking activities that allows them to continually expand and leverage a diverse personal network.
7. Utilises a network management system to effectively track their networking endeavours and important information about each member of their network.
8. Adopts an approach of regularly sharing relevant information with people in their network with a mindset of no expectations in return. They continually nurture their network as part of their long-term career management plan and not just when seeking new job opportunities, so that when they need to seek help from their network, people are far more open to supporting them.
9. Knows how to frame and deliver the right questions to whom they are speaking to enable ongoing expansion of their network or an opportunity to speak to a key decision maker.
10. Surrounds themselves with positive and supportive people who continue to strengthen and enhance the enthusiasm they portray during their job search activities. This is in complete contrast to being surrounded with nay-sayers who can seriously undermine your enthusiasm and ultimately your job search outcomes.
If you’ve ticked all ten areas, then congratulations – you’re a highly successful networker and are communicating your brand professionally and prominently in readiness for when that ideal job opportunity presents itself.
If, on the other hand you haven’t ticked all ten areas, then my suggestion would be to select, work on and integrate one new area each week into your networking plan so that you too can become a ‘star’ networker.
© Annemarie Cross 2009
So how did your networking skills rate against these ten points?