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Demystifying the Rules of Networking

Demystifying the Rules of Networking

By Denise Kersten, USATODAY.com

2. Networking is P.R.

Creating a positive buzz around yourself is critical in networking.

“Your job as a networker is to teach the people you know to trust your character and your competence. And that way they will be inclined to pass you along,” says Anne Baber, author of Make Your Contacts Count.

Mink did this skillfully. He had already accepted a job offer when he interviewed with another company, hoping to learn more about the firm and its approach to the industry. The interview went well, but Mink still went to work for the company where he’d accepted an offer.

Mink checked in with his interviewer via e-mail every four or five months, and updated him on his recent accomplishments.

By sending a few messages, Mink accomplished two networking essentials: He established a strong reputation and stayed fresh in his contact’s memory. “It really only takes a couple of minutes,” Mink says.

Those minutes were well spent. When the interviewer took a high-ranking position at a start-up, he brought Mink with him — at a significantly higher salary.

3. Networking is not a spectator sport.

Face-to-face interactions make networking an effective job-search strategy. Unfortunately, they’re also what make it so scary.

True, when you send a resume, you don’t have to deal with potential rejection up front. But you won’t get the results you could with some one-on-one networking.

“I think everybody knows where most of those resumes go,” Fisher says. “But we pretend. We still want to do it that way because it just feels safe and comfortable.”

But that’s not going to get you a new job. Neither is simply meeting new people.

When you make a new acquaintance, have a clear focus in presenting yourself and requesting their help. Tell them what you’re good at, what you like to do and what you’re looking for — without scaring them off by asking for a job. Include concrete details that make you memorable, like an award you won or a problem you solved at work.

Most importantly, ask for more contacts. It’s this ‘second generation’ of networking — two or more degrees of separation — where people make connections that lead to job offers, Baber says.

In informational interviews, aim to get three new names from each person you meet. If you succeed in building rapport and presenting yourself as an asset, they may offer to make a phone call or arrange an introduction on your behalf.

Most importantly, always show appreciation for the favors you receive.


“Anybody along the way that does the slightest bit of help should be thanked, preferably with a thank-you note,” Hansen says.


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