Making the Most of Your One-to-One Networking Meetings
Building your networking know how will help you get the most out of the
one-to-one meetings with people who you hope may help you.
So how do you get started?
First of all, you need to identify the network you have access to.
Many people think they have got very few contacts, but in fact, with a bit of effort you will be able to reach many more people than you think!
The key point is to remember that you are not just aiming to reach the people you know directly.
If you sat down and wrote a list of all the people you know, you would probably generate a list of at least 50 -100 people. Probably more. If you consider that each one of those contacts also knows 50 – 100 people, suddenly your network seems a lot bigger!
Brainstorming your network
A key trick of networking know how is to take the time to really brainstorm your first level of contacts in detail. You might find it helpful to do this with your Career Change Buddy as they can prompt your thinking.
Here is a list of suggestions to get you started.
- Your immediate family
- Your extended family
- Family members of the in-laws
- Casual acquaintances
- Immediate neighbours
- Wider community contacts eg local service providers
- Professionals you deal with personally eg accountants, lawyers, evening class teachers
- People in your social activities eg clubs & societies, your local volunteer group or church
- People you have met at parties, weddings and other social gatherings
- Parents in your children’s social groups
- Your own current work colleagues
- People in other departments of your company you have dealings with
- People in other firms who you currently deal with
- People you have met at conferences and training courses
- Work colleagues from all the previous jobs you have had
- University friends
- College friends
- School friends
Is your head reeling yet? As you can see, to get started with networking, know how to tap into these resources at your finger tips.
Once you have your list you can work out who might be able to help you with your career change – or who might know someone else who could help.
Plan your objectives
Networking know how is not just a matter of talking to lots of people, it is about knowing how to approach them so you get what you want. At the same time you want to leave them with a positive impression so they remember you.
Remember to stay in broad research mode when you first make contact. Do not go straight in and ask for a job! Ask for information, ideas or advice.
Make sure that you…
- Work out exactly what you want to get out of the meeting. Have a clear agenda and plan a list of questions.
- Know something about them, their company or their line of business so you can show evidence of interest.
- Think about what you want to say about yourself. Avoid a sales pitch, but be ready to be positive about your skills and experience.
- Consider what you might be able to offer. Would you be willing to do some voluntary work for mutual benefit? Do you know anyone who could be a potential client for your contact so you can help them along with their
When you call, be ready to explain what help you would like and reassure them that you will not take up much of their time. Be flexible about when and where you will meet.
If need be, rehearse this call with your Career Change Buddy!
This kind of networking meeting is often called an informational interview. Keep it short and focused. Use your list of questions to make sure you get the information and advice you need. Make sure you show genuine interest in them and their work as well as presenting yourself positively. Check how much time they can give you and stick to it!
At the end of the interview, always ask if they can suggest anyone else who might be able to help you. This is how your network grows. Leave your networking business card with them if it feels appropriate, but don’t force it on them.
Developing your networking know how will ensure that you maximise the benefits of this kind of meeting.
After your meeting
Make notes about what you have learned from the meeting and add them to your Career Change Project File. Include thoughts about the contact themselves – how supportive were they? When might you follow them up again? What action will you now take as a result of this meeting?
People who are successful at networking know how to make the most of formal and informal 1-1 meetings. Make sure you use these tips to help you plan and implement your career change.