Contributor: Sean Mathews
Strategy Consultant, RBC Ventures
We’ve all experienced the pushy salesperson. Their single-minded goal is to get you to buy what they’re selling as quickly as possible, even if that makes you feel pressurized. It’s hard to imagine making any kind of meaningful connection with that person.
Similarly, if your networking posture is, ‘get me a job as soon as possible’, you run the risk of coming across like that pushy salesperson. remember, if you chase a person for a job, they will likely run the other way.
Effective networking strategies
I believe it’s better to adopt a consultant approach to networking as opposed to a sales approach. The difference is that you seek to understand before demanding to be understood and you listen and learn before expecting to be heard.
You may have heard about the famous interviewing technique for screening potential salespeople where the interviewer holds up an ordinary pen and says, “Sell me this pen.” The exercise is designed to observe if the candidate approaches the selling process as a consultant or as a pushy salesperson.
It is quite natural as a newcomer to be a bit overzealous in addressing your immediate need (finding a job), but it’s important to curb your enthusiasm because if you come across as pushy the very doors you’re trying to open will close and shut down potential, and valuable connections. Changing the way we view a networking meeting could dramatically change outcomes.
Here are a few guiding principles every newcomer should employ when networking for the short-term (Today) and in the future.
Networking as a newcomer
Understanding the employment landscape
Networking meetings are a great resource for helping one understand the market, company culture, and employer expectations. Having this information will help prepare you for your next interview.
Refining your elevator pitch
Choose mentor(s) from your network and ask them to help you refine your pitch. In Canada, people are generally very open to providing tips on how to enhance your elevator pitch, improve resume or even how to better present yourself.
Planning your career path
Meeting people to understand what they do will help you think about your own future. Is this an area you’d like to work in? Is the job this person is doing a role that you can apply your experience and skills? Is it the kind of position that could provide Canadian experience to assist in getting you to the job you want in a few years time? Having foresight in terms of what you want to do will help you create a strategic plan to get there.
Creating your Cabinet
A leader needs a cabinet to advise and guide them to success. In the process of networking, identify experts who you respect and would like to consult with from time to time. Your cabinet should comprise of specialists or domain experts in areas you would like to augment your knowledge by drawing on their expertise.
It is universally understood that hunting for a job is among the most stressful things a person can do. Having a network of people to provide professional and moral support will help you through the inevitable ups and downs. Meeting people regularly gives you a sense that things are moving forward. Every person you meet provides access to that person’s network. Not all people you meet will have a job for you right away, but Canadians are generous; they will keep you in mind for future opportunities, and at the very least, offer insights, tips, and encouragement.
Networking for the future
Future career opportunities
After you have spent some time cultivating and growing your network you might find it surprising when one of your connections actually reaches out with a potential job opportunity: It happens! Even after you land a job keep your network updated on your professional journey and how you have grown over time, This will keep you top of mind when an opportunity comes up.
Connecting the dots
Continuing to network when you are in a job will provide you with more and more information from the different people you meet. You will start seeing patterns in the conversation which will give you a good idea of industry trends, areas that companies are investing in and where your next job opportunity might emerge.
Building your team
Meet people at all levels so that when it is time for you to build your team you would know a few great people who you might enjoy working with. In the future when you are in a position to hire people you will have a ready repository of people you might enjoy working with.
Being well connected with people from different industries will not only give you cross-industry learning but you might also get client leads for the organization you work. Having a strong network will help you increase your value within the organization you work for as well as will serve you should you decide to become an entrepreneur one day.
Finally, remember that all that you expect from others is what your network expects from you. Networking is about sharing: giving and receiving, so make sure you think of the value you can offer your network and don’t forget to help others who need your help. Because in giving you will receive.
About the Author:
Sean is a brand and communications strategist with over two decades of experience working with clients in Airlines, Automobiles, Alcoholic Beverages, Banking, Confectionaries, Consumer Electronics, and Quick Service Restaurants across geographies. In his current role he supports marketing and campaign development for Arrive and other ventures. Sean moved to Canada four years ago and shares his experiences with newcomers to guide them.