The chances are that if you're applying for jobs you haven't been an effective networker in the past. The best networkers know the jobs that are available in their industry before they are posted, and if they are interested, have already had a word in someone's ear. They help other people to get jobs, they help themselves to better jobs, and they solve employer problems by filling vacancies without them having to resort to a recruitment process.
They are in short a force for good.
Despite that many people don't like to network. They feel it is beneath them, or somehow underhand. That, however is because they don't get it. Networking is not a transactional selfish exchange. It is often quite the reverse. It is an act of communication, an exchange of useful information that helps get the right people to the right positions.
Here are the ten steps to being a great networker:
1. Help others
Many people start networking only after they've lost their jobs. Effective networking means creating contacts and relationships while still employed. If you've helped find people positions in the past, you'll already be having conversations with people about jobs you may be interested in, and be in a very different position when you are looking for a particular role.
2. Know what you want
If you attend networking events without being very clear about what you want, then you will not know who to target, and even if you find the right person, what to say.
If you're a natural networker, this won't be a problem. If you're starting now because you don't have a job, you will need to practice what you say, and how you say it. Don't have a script, but do know how to answer questions, and think about how to guide conversations.
Some people are natural listeners, other people natural talkers. Networkers know how to do both, and moreover when to do both. If you don't listen, you won't pick up the nuggets of information that may lead to a job. If you don't have anything to say, how can people buy into you?
5. Overcome objections
Don't ask, don't get. Don't be shy - ask direct questions - are you employing right now? If the answer isn't what you want to hear, look for value in the conversation: Will you be in the near future? Do you know any companies that may be? Can you give me any advice on whom I should speak to..?
6. Don't be shy?
No matter age or position, some people are just shy. However at certain points in your life, it will be a luxury you cannot afford. If you are looking for a job this is such a time. Get over it: Don't be a wallflower, don't stand on the sidelines. Talk to people, be confident, stand upright and be proud.
7. Look the part
Image matters - dress the part.
8. Give back
When you do get a job, don't forget how you got it. Just because you found the job of your dreams does not mean that everyone else has. Pay back the favours have been given to you, and you hope will be in the future.
9. Enjoy it
Meeting people is an interesting, rewarding experience. Don't treat it as a chore, but an opportunity to find out about other people, and make connections that matter - personally and professionally.
10. Make it part of who you are
The more you network, the less you'll notice you are doing it.
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