Taking the time to build your network will serve you well in an industry saturated with bold personalities.
Building quality contacts won’t happen overnight, but here are some tips to increase your chances of getting the response you want to your networking efforts.
Find people online whose work you admire
This isn’t an age for shrinking violets! Many people will be glad to connect with you – if you give them a valid reason.
First, google phrases such as “[Company] [Job Title]“ and “[Job Focus] [Finance Sector]”. Make a list of everyone who works in your area of interest. If their email address isn’t easy to find, you can try to guess it – for most companies, it’s [First name][Last name]@[Company domain]. Alternatively, you could connect with them on LinkedIn.
Once you have your list, work through it systematically. Who do you really want to connect with? Rank them, and then write to each one with a personalised, friendly query. Try to do this in batches of three, to avoid getting overwhelmed with responses (and forgetting who is who!)
It helps to be upfront with your question, so they’re not left guessing why you’ve contacted them. You may not want to ask them for a job(!), but you could start with softer openers like: What skills do they think most benefit them in their role? What do they think helped them get to where they are now? Keep it brief, and stick to one question, so that they don’t feel it will be a huge drain on their time to answer you.
Here’s a customisable template for sending messages on LinkedIn:
I saw you’re the for [company name]. I’m [where you are in your career] and my ambition is to [work for your company/do what you do].
I’d love to know [your question] and would really appreciate it if you could give me some of your time [give a timeframe]. Please let me know.
Many thanks and best wishes,
[Your name, and email address if necessary]
Prepare for your network meeting
Got a response? Great! It always helps to be prepared, and these meetings are no exception.
1. Remember to listen
Here’s the part that most people forget when they meet their “work hero”: Relax. Yes, first impressions count, but some people go overboard in the attempt to impress.
Hopefully, you’ll be armed with questions that you genuinely want answers to, rather than those that you think will make you look clever. The person you’ve asked to network with you is there because they want to help inform you about the industry, so go in with the intention of learning from them.
2. Remember the golden rules for successful job interviews
Yes, it’s a less formal setting, but many of the same principles apply:Be enthusiastic about seeing them – and don’t forget that they wanted to see you!
Be enthusiastic about seeing them – and don’t forget that they wanted to see you!
Be punctual and appreciative of their time.
Be confident, without coming across as arrogant!
3. If it’s online, don’t forget to stay professional
One of the dangers in meeting online is that you can forget – in your PJs, hugging a mug of coffee – that this is still business.
Whether it is an in-person or a remote meeting, prepare properly, maintain eye contact, and present your best self. We’ve written more about how to prepare for remote interviews in this blog post.
What to do after your meeting
You’re not done yet – here’s how to continue building great relationships:
1. Thank them for their time
Even if you ended the meeting with something else lined up, don’t forget to thank your contact for taking time out of their day to meet with you. Be appreciative and genuine. Tell them how their advice helped you.
2. Don’t expect the world
It helps not to go into a network meeting with grand expectations. Assuming that someone who responds to your query is also interested in giving you a job is the wrong way to go about it.
Quite often, a first meeting will end there, with that one meeting. That’s fine – don’t chase them up for more. Thank them, and let the conversation come to an end naturally. You’ve opened the door just a little – if you meet them again at a conference or open day, then you have all the opportunity to remind them who you are and why you connected in the first place.
Have you got an upcoming interview and need help to prepare for it?
Aldrich & Co offers executive coaching wherever you are in your career. Practice your interview skills with us – we will help you present your ‘best self’ and give you guidance on your performance.