Networking? Make Them G.L.A.D. They Met You!
“Always make a great first impression.” I hate job search advice like this. What is that supposed to mean? A firm handshake? Shined shoes? A winning smile? Sure, interviewers will form early opinions of job applicants based on limited information in the first few minutes, but honestly… it’s the final and lasting impression that really counts.
And it is not just job interviews where this counts. Networking interviews – the one essential technique that will uncover the next job opportunity before the hoards of other job seekers – demand a lasting impression. Don’t make the fatal mistake of treating networking interviews as job interviews “lite” or as a stepping stone to the next person. Treat every networking meeting as an opportunity to build a net of people who will care enough about you that when they hear of an opportunity they will make the effort to pick up the phone or drop you a note. Recruit them to become a permanent member of your job search network. And you do this by making them G.L.A.D. they met you. Do this with:
Great meetings – A job search networking meeting is not a social exercise. It is a business exercise. To that end you are responsible to make it a GREAT meeting. Do you operate with an agenda? Are you focused and clear in your communications? Do you know what you are asking for? Do you end the meeting with action items or next steps? Conducting a great meeting demonstrates you are a professional.
Less than 24-hour thank you – OK this should be a no brainer. After all, your mother told you to always write thank you notes. But did you? The sad fact is that a pitiful percentage of job seekers bother to send a simple note of sincere thanks. Distinguish yourself!
Actions you took within 72 hours – If you ask for advice and contacts, you will get advice and contacts. Some of it will be great stuff, some of it will be so-so. You may even get a job lead. But if you EVER want that person to help you again in the future, you must demonstrate that you value them. Take the time within 72 hours of your networking meeting to report what you have done. Just a simple note with the actions you took but without apology or noting the actions you chose not take. Few people do this. And this will make you exceptional.
Double-back after the next referral meeting is completed. If you were referred to another person, and made the connection, always drop a note that says in effect, “Bob and I met yesterday and had a great meeting. Thank you again for connecting us.”
Now you might think these are polite things to do. Sure. But networking contacts are gold and good ones are hard won. Get the return on your investment. Make sure that everyone in your network will make the extra effort of keeping you informed, giving you leads and giving you the encourage to make through the tough challenge of finding a job in this awful job market. Make them GLAD to know you.