1) Don’t network just to network
Make sure you have a networking goal. Networking is a chance to introduce yourself to new people and make connections with those that have shared interests. So, what are your interests and how do they translate into goals for your online and in person networking efforts?
2) Build it BEFORE you need it
Networking requires give and take – avoiding a WIFM (What’s in it for me?) attitude. Developing your personal network by making a point of sharing, joining conversations and helping others will position you for success when it becomes your turn to ask for help. You will already have some good relationships built up!
3) Be interesting and be interested in others
Of course, focusing on others will yield the best results. Find out what their interests are and share about yourself when you are asked. You will be asked – don’t worry!
4) Manage your personal “brand”
We are not necessarily talking about developing a logo and tagline for yourself, but be aware of how your on- and off-line presences mesh. This is especially true if you have multiple on-line profiles. Use consistent messaging, manage privacy settings, set up Google alerts to see when your name pops up on-line, etc.
5) Don’t keep score
When networking, most people you help will want to reciprocate the favor but may not be in a position to do so. Keep a positive attitude and remember that your act of generosity in networking might inspire the person you assisted to help someone else.
6) Listen twice as much as you talk
7) “Ping” constantly
“Ping” is nerdspeak for “Are you there?” and comes from the realm of computer networking when a programmer checks to see if another computer is connected to the network. The career networker can “ping,” or send a short message to, others in their network to let them know they are thinking of them and want to stay in touch.
Use your LinkedIn homepage to monitor when people are changing jobs or getting promotions, and send a short message congratulating them or offering to connect them to others in your network.
8) Include an item of interest or a personal update
This is especially useful when “pinging” someone in your network. Make sure any interesting article or news items is something that would be aligned with what you know about the person’s goals.
9) Express gratitude and/or show appreciation often
Everyone likes to be appreciated for their contributions. When you genuinely express your thanks for someone’s good deed or timely community discussion, you contribute to an overall positive feeling within in the network. Plus, you develop a reputation as a positive person.
10) Practice good business manners
In addition to normal courtesies, such as remembering to say “please” or “thank you,” think about how you greet others, appropriate topics of conversation, managing your cell phone and even acceptable dining etiquette. For instance, you would not want to be caught with both hands full of food and drink when you are finally introduced to that recruiter from your dream company!
11) Loop ahead and loop back
As you continue to “loop ahead” to new contacts on the quest to finding that next job, don’t forget to “loop back” with people who may have put you in touch with others two or three steps earlier in the job search process. Even if the lead was a “dead end,” that person will be interested to hear about your career progress. Use it as an opportunity to say thank you.
12) Follow up, follow up, follow up
If you have met someone at a function and received their business card or contact information, be sure to write a follow up message referencing your meeting or conversation. If this is someone you would like to speak with more, indicate that and suggest a way to continue communication such a lunch or a phone call. Then be sure to follow through on the appointment.
13) Never eat alone
Meal times are the perfect opportunity to build up relationships. Make it a point to invite someone you don’t know well yet to join you. Of course, this could apply to coffee breaks, happy hour or some other activity, too. Don’t limit yourself to lunch!