Practical Tips on How to Network

Pro JobWe all know “networking” is a fundamental for success in the U.S. job market. Most of us don’t know how to explain how to do it, though.

Becoming an effective networker takes practice over time. Our clients have to start to work before many of them can develop the networking skills required to get the type of job they expect. This is especially true for clients with stronger English, professional credentials or a highly marketable work history.

Click here to read an article that finally helped me identify some specific and concrete things clients can practice to start learning how to network.

How to Relate Networking to Fundamental Client Cultural Values

Networking is based on U.S. cultural assumptions that go against what many of our client cultures hold true about appropriate professional behavior.

Many of the best practical tips in the article relate to making other people feel comfortable in networking situations rather than bragging or focusing only on yourself. Networking is about connecting to other people in meaningful ways. Sure, you’re trying to find a job, but you don’t network alone.

Many of our client cultures value showing respect, helping others “save face” or avoid embarrassment. Helping clients see networking in this context is an important first step.

Here are 5 practical tips from the article that focus on helping others.

  1. Make the Other People Feel Comfortable. Greet them. Smile. Shake hands. Introduce yourself. (This sounds familiar, right?)
  2. Ask Questions You Prepared in Advance. People like to feel like they have something to say that is interesting to others. This helps you learn, but also makes it easy for others to network, too.
  3. Be a connector. Don’t just look for people who can help you. Make useful introductions between people you meet. People will remember that you helped them and be more likely to help you in return.
  4. Listen actively. Pay attention to what people are saying. Don’t just ask a question and immediately start watching for the next person to network. You won’t learn anything helpful and people will notice and feel offended.
  5. Follow up within 3 days. Take notes about who you met, ideas you heard and new things to do. Follow-up with an email, thank you note or phone call quickly before people forget. Try to offer something new to them, as well.
How to Use This In Your Work
  1. Give this article to highly skilled clients as a homework assignment to read on their own.
  2. Consider assigning a volunteer or mentor to discuss the article and help clients practice some of the ideas.
  3. Look for a job fair or other group networking event that clients can prepare to attend using the tips in this article.

Clients aren’t the only ones facing time pressure to find their first job.  We need to provide a lot of assistance to a lot of clients in a short time frame.  How are you helping highly skilled clients master the networking skills they need to get – and succeed – in the best starter job for them?  Let us know at information@higheradvantage.org.

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