Easy steps for communicating with your network.
Your methods of communication with your network may vary depending on your personal objectives, compensation goals, profession, geographic location and personality type. As mentioned in our Networking for Introverts article, the key is working with your personality to make the process as easy as possible. Many networking scenario take place in a social setting, however, there are times when networking is more structured. You may have to reach out to people you may not know very well to ask for contacts. In cases like this, networking can take place through written correspondence, telephone conversations or personal meetings.
It is important that you diffuse any notion that you expect your networking contact to have or know of a job opening. Tell the contact that you are only seeking his/her advice as he/she is in a position that might aid your job search effort. You will find that asking for information will feel very different from asking for a job. Most people you contact will not have a job for you, but they will likely provide advice, information or support.
We have highlighted options to communicate effectively with people you may not know well in order to grow your professional network.
Informational letter of introduction
One option for approaching a networking referral is to send an introductory letter. Email is now the most popular way to send written communications. Email has the advantage of speed, but you may opt for traditional post, depending on your personal situation and the environment of your contacts.
The advantage of sending a letter or email is that it does not cause the unexpected interruption that a phone call can create. You are less likely to catch the person at an inconvenient time and they are free to respond to your inquiry at their leisure.
Including a CV / resume in your correspondence
There are various viewpoints regarding whether and when to send a CV / resume to your networking contact. If you do include a CV / resume with your letter, the contact may be in a position to forward it to an HR officer on your behalf. However, if you opt not to send a CV / resume with your correspondence, your request for help, information and advice will probably appear more genuine. The drawback is that your contact may not have an overall picture of your qualifications ahead of time.
Another option may be available to you if your target company maintains a CV / resume bank on their website. Consider submitting your CV / resume to the company’s site and then mentioning that you have done so when networking with a company contact.
Networking by telephone
Effective networking often requires extensive use of the telephone. Even if you are one of those people who is uncomfortable conversing on the phone, make an effort to develop this skill. Your confidence and effectiveness will increase if you are prepared for the call. Preparation – in the form of scripting – is critical. Your IMPACT Group coach can provide you with ideas and sample telephone scripts can be found on your myIMPACT portal. When you call, you may need to leave a message on their voicemail. Have two scripts ready: one for a person-to-person talk and one to leave a voicemail message. It is important to pronounce your name clearly and give your phone number slowly so that it can be written down accurately. Then repeat it. Be sure to leave your email address as well.
Meeting with contacts face-to-face
For some, the primary purpose of ringing contacts is to set up a meeting with them. While this may sound a bit pushy, a personal meeting allows for a closer and more meaningful relationship to develop. It is easier to establish rapport face-to-face and the contact is far more likely to remember you afterwards. Personal meetings also allow the individual to see your assets in full force. This increases the potential for the meeting to turn into a job interview or other good referrals. Be prepared with a list of questions to ask that will help the flow of the conversation. In many countries, personal connections and meeting face-to-face are vital to the networking and hiring process.
Following up with contacts
Once you have found a valuable contact, stay in touch by sending a thank -you note within 24 hours after every networking meeting. You can find sample notes on your myIMPACT portal.
After meeting with your referrals, remember to ring your contacts with positive feedback. The person who referred you or gave you helpful advice will appreciate hearing about the results. Use the call to bring the contact up-to-date on your job search progress, to offer new relevant information or to inform them that you got a job! Remember to offer your service and support to your contact, should it be needed, to return the favour. Again, value-added networking means that you are also going to stay in touch with your contacts in order to pass along ideas and information you think will be of interest to them professionally or personally.
Stay tuned for our next networking article – Part 3: Advice from IMPACT Group coaches on social networking in your new country!
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