21 May 2013
Many professionals would agree that networking is a major part of a successful job search, but how do you know if you are doing it correctly? Can your networking tactics be harming you rather than helping you? There are a number of ways to ensure that you’re being tactful, considerate, and appreciative when dealing with professional contacts. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of networking to help you build the most productive relationships. Do be tactful and considerate. If you are contacting this person for industry advice or leads on job openings, chances are he or she is in a position you admire and therefore has limited time to begin with. Craft polite emails that respect this fact by keeping them short and to the point. Don’t act entitled. When writing your email, don’t be so brief that you essentially say “Hi, my name is ___. We met at this conference. What can you do to help me?” While it’s important to respect their time, you still want to be reverent and respectful. Do explain why you trust them to help. In most cases, your contacts will be happy to lend you a hand should they feel you are contacting them for the right reason. Communicating that you consider them to be a trusted and experienced professional in your field will humble them and make them more likely to respond favorably. Don’t expect them to do all the work. Be specific. What is it you’re looking for help with? Further show your respect for their time by being direct, though polite, about what it is you are looking for. Provide them with your resume and other relevant documents up front rather than expect them to ask for them or seek you out on LinkedIn. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to help. Do take a hint. If your contact does not respond, follow up once, after a reasonable amount of time. Should he or she still not get back to you, move on. You have done your job by reaching out and being pushy can be seen as presumptuous. Don’t be overzealous. Focus on the quality, not quantity, of your contacts. Sending generic connection requests to people you’ve never met on LinkedIn because you think they might be able to help you in the future can confuse or annoy them. Instead, stick with those you have met or have a connection to through others. Should you send a request to someone on LinkedIn whom you’re connected to through another person, get that other person’s permission to use their name in a personalized message as to why you would like to connect. Do follow up. Should a contact respond to you, even only to say that they unfortunately don’t have much to offer, be grateful and thank them for their time. Keep in touch afterward, especially if he or she was helpful. Even occasionally forwarding a relevant article or something similar of interest can keep you in touch.