It’s kind of a dirty word, isn’t it? Networking. While daunting, networking shouldn’t feel overwhelming if you follow these rules of etiquette.
Think of it as a relationship, not a transaction. Networking isn’t just about what you need, even if you are job searching and feeling desperate. It’s about sharing and should be a positive relationship for both parties. Listen when they talk about their work and think if you have advice or connections that could be helpful to them. (This altruism can actually be self-serving as well; there is no better way to impress someone!)
Follow up. You know this one right? Be sure to follow up otherwise those new contacts are lost. If you are working in a more traditional sector, send them an email. In our industry, connecting over social media, such as a tweet hello, can serve as that follow up unless the person offered something specific, like a coffee meeting, where an email is required.
Don’t apologize. Thank them instead. Often emails requesting help start with “I’m sorry for bothering you…” or “I know you are busy…” While the recipient may indeed be busy, don’t undercut your own request. Instead stay positive. “Thank you for taking the time to…”
Be on time. Being on time is a sign of respect to anyone you are meeting, but definitely necessary when meeting new professional contacts.
Ask who else you should speak to. Often the first person you meet at an event isn’t the person who has the perfect advice or job offer for you. Instead, it’s someone else they know or someone that person knows. End every conversation with, is there anyone else that you think I should talk to? It’ll jog their mind about who they know that could help. And if they offer someone’s name- follow up!
Image originally from our tour of Camille Style’s Austin Office.