especially during career transition
by Sylvia Taudien | Advantage Consultores | Barcelona · Spain
In my opinion, Americans are absolutely the best when it comes to networking. In Europe and especially South Europe we are accustomed to connecting, but we are not that resourceful. Networking is more than attending a conference and having a nice lunch together. It is more than a methodology. It is a life philosophy.
Especially when faced with an unexpected career transition, many realize that their closest contacts are people from within their former company. Some question why they didn’t join more business clubs, associations and networking groups. People who view networking as an ongoing process are often more successful, in their professional and personal life.
Throughout my career, I have worked with hundreds of professionals in career transition. I have found that those who are successful networkers follow a number of simple rules, both throughout their careers and during a transition.
The rules for effective networking during your professional life:
- Be genuinely interested in other people… listen, smile and connect.
- Find common interests when meeting new people.
- Use a good database to organize your contacts.
- Enter new contacts into your database and write down special details like when and where you met and personal facts (birthday, names of their partner and children, hobbies).
- Send a short follow-up email appreciating the first contact and providing something of value (an interesting and applicable article or a new contact).
- Organize meetings with business friends; invite them for a cocktail or organize interesting speakers.
- Always take the initiative for maintaining the contacts; send brief notes to catch-up, provide updates on your career transition and send items your contact may find useful.
- Remembering little details helps maintain good contacts.
The networking rules for job seekers:
- If you have established a good network throughout your career, it is much easier to reach out during a career transition
- Write down any contacts you can think of: classmates from university, ex-colleagues and bosses from former companies, and team members from associations, clubs and sports
- Wait before contacting your network; take time to digest the separation from your company
- Prepare a clear message to share with contacts: who you are, where you want to go and what value you can add to a company
- When asking for a meeting, don’t say that you are looking for a new job; instead say you have a project and need advice
- Explain your professional objective and involve the other person
- Ask for new contacts who could be helpful in your search
- Be grateful and write an email after the meeting thanking your contact for their time
- Your contacts, and the new contacts you gain from your contacts, are the best way to discover new job opportunities.