Happy New Year! I hope 2022 is a lovely year full of opportunities and first times.
Summarizing my last post, we talked about the safety network and its importance for professional development. However, the normal network (the one taught in business school) is quite important too. It is a fact that interpersonal skills and connections are well rewarded in any type of industry, but it is also true that not everybody is a people’s person.
I must confess that I have been struggling with networking for the last few months. The strategy of stalking people on LinkedIn and sending tons of messages introducing myself was certainly not working, so I decided to take a step back to analyze my approach, and these were the results:
The main problems I have found so far with networking are that 1) you don’t always have common interests with the person you are trying reach, and 2) that interest is not always reciprocated. You should keep in mind that most of the people you are trying to reach are also receiving many other messages and, let’s be honest, nobody has enough time to talk to strangers that want to comply with the “reference” checklist on their job applications.
After talking to people from the industry, as well as checking some points with the careers office, I created a checklist of networking 101 that can help you interact with others:
- Try to meet people in person, outside of your LinkedIn comfort zone. Junior levels in the sector are super busy and they rarely have time to answer any questions, so try targeting those who are on events.
- Find something interesting about the person you want to reach out to. Asking about the role, wage and the company is not as interesting as asking them about their career path! Make it personal.
- Always call back soon. I have lost some important opportunities for not replying soon, so be sharp.
- 15 to 20 min is enough!!! Don’t take longer, respect people’s time and be concise.
- Send an agenda and stick to it!!! Never have an open conversation, especially with senior levels.
- Always always always contact the person back. Keeping in touch is necessary for not making people feel used.
- Be humble. There is a reason you want to know that person, so shut up and listen.
- It is a conversation, not a sales pitch. Yeah, you can talk about yourself, but that should not be the main focus.
- Know your audience!!! Age, nationality, background, etc…
- Find something that can be attractive to the person to start a conversation. In my case, the blog has been an excellent opportunity.
Last but not least, create a network you feel comfortable with, but most importantly, always be yourself.