Written by Anastassian Mikhailova
Now that you had a chance to get your feet wet in professional networking at the recent LSCDS Networking Reception, let’s review some rules. Fluency in business language and conduct will set you apart from other people and ensure you maintain a long lasting relationship with your networking partners, ultimately landing you your dream job.
- Dress wellIf you want to land that job, you have to look mature and professional. Nothing conveys that better than your attire. Dress to impress (suit and tie for guys, dress pants/dress skirt and a blouse for girls). Make sure that your hair, manicure and shoes are appropriate for your outfit. Remember that any interaction with a professional is a mini interview where you are being evaluated as a potential candidate for future job openings. Would you show up for the interview in jeans?
- SmileSmiling conveys confidence and helps break the ice. But don’t overdo it – be genuine.
- Display genuine interestNo one wants to feel like they are being used for the purpose of getting a job. Employers want passionate, interested employees who will put their heart into their work and excel at it. It will always work to your benefit if you ask smart questions about their company (i.e. that you cannot simply find on their website) and position that show that you care and are really interested in finding out.
- Send a ‘nice to meet you’ or a ‘thank you’ note after you meet a professionalRule No. 1 is to always acknowledge your interaction with a professional the same evening or next morning the latest. Show your appreciation of their time and effort by sending them a short email stating you who are and what you were wearing when they met you, and what you talked about. You can also suggest a further follow up over coffee/lunch or just keep in touch in the future. A gesture like this sets you apart from other people they met that evening, helps them remember who you are, and creates an opportunity to continue a relationship. Always send a thank you note for their time after subsequent meetings.
- Offer to buy coffee/lunchSometimes networking reminds me of dating. Talk politely, dress well… and offer to pay for their lunch/coffee. Your contact took time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. The least you can do is to repay them with that small token of appreciation.
- Keep in touchSo you have not corresponded with your former mentor in over two years and now you need a reference letter… Avoid this situation by sending an occasional email note to them to see how their professional (or personal) life is going. Christmas, New Years, birthday wishes, etc lets them know that you genuinely care and don’t just want something from them.
- Ask for a job…duh. It’s awkward, inappropriate and your contact might not even be in a position to hire.
- Bombard a professional with emailsWhen emailing to request coffee/lunch or anything else, don’t send more than 2 (3 is absolute maximum) emails. Professionals are busy people and it is perfectly OK to follow up on your first email after a few business days (I give it 4-7 days). Indicate that you are writing to follow up and ask them if they had a chance to read/think over your previous email. If still no response – move on with your life.
- Tell them how much you don’t like your current job, school, boss, etc.No one likes complainers. It shows them how unprofessional you are, that your cannot recognize your OWN mistakes when dealing with people and that you are likely to talk bad about them behind their back as well.
- Sound/seem desperateBeing enthusiastic is great but make sure you don’t corner them at networking events or harass them with emails.
- Be late, make them waitNever be late. Being punctual on the job is very important. Don’t set a bad tone by being late to a meeting without even having started the job.
…keep networking and remember – every failure is a stepping stone to success…