No-nonsense networking

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Q. I’m amazed at how many people network in audacious ways. I belong to a professional group that holds monthly meetings, and some people just blatantly walk up to me and ask if there are any job openings for them in my firm. They don’t even try to strike up any small talk first— it’s as if they see me solely as someone who can help them. Is that the best way to network?

A. Obviously, that’s not the best way to appeal to you. But the opposite extreme is almost as annoying to many people, where the networker strikes up phony small talk in a transparent effort to extract a favor. Many networking experts say that it’s smart to enter a room knowing exactly what you want from others, to have a clear goal in mind. That way, you can launch a conversation, build rapport and then look for an opportunity to raise the issue that’s foremost in your mind. In common networking situations, such as job fairs, conferences and regular meetings of a professional group, people wouldn’t attend unless they had a purpose. As long as you radiate a friendly, authentic tone, then it’s hard for others to feel used when you ask them for something.

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