By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS
In my last posting, Networking Your Way To Success: Part 1, I started sharing information about networking geared for those who are pros at it as well as for those who shudder at the thought of networking.  For those of you who are in the latter category, I hope that the suggestions I gave you have helped to take the “sting” out of this process.

In this posting, I am going to go into more detail about what to do at a formal networking meeting.  Yes, there are specific things to take into consideration if you want your efforts to bear fruit in the form of making connections and gaining useful information.

The first consideration is to think about your attire.  After a while of being out of work, people often adopt “casual” as their “go to” mode of dress for almost anything.  You should treat a networking function like a business meeting rather than a social event.  Dress as if you are going to be interviewed, as you never know who you encounter at these types of meetings and you want to put your best foot forward by looking professional.

Second, be prepared to present your value proposition so that it rolls off of your tongue with a flash of silken electricity.  Practice it until it becomes a part of you.  Stand in front of a mirror looking at yourself, feeling the words as they glide over your tongue.  When it happens with ease you will have more confidence to say it in front of a group, which is what you will be doing at some networking meetings.

Third, prepare a networking overview sheet.  “What” you say, “another document to prepare! Isn’t my resume enough? Not another thing to do!”  Well, let me explain why.  When you give out your resume, you are giving up control over this precious description of you, your capabilities and your achievements.  Not everyone is skilled to read and interpret a resume.  The person you give it to may take it and give it to someone who could be working at a company that you want to work at and hurt (however unintentionally) your chances to get an interview because you could not tailor it for the position, for example. Instead, prepare a networking overview sheet which includes your value proposition, skills, highlights of your accomplishments, a list of target companies that you are interested in and what you are offering to the members of the group.  What can you offer the group?  I have a client with a background in interior decorating.  She offers the group a complimentary home staging review to help prepare their property for sale. 

Keep in mind that this is a give and take relationship, not just gimme, gimme, gimme, take, take, take! When you do the giving, oftentimes the returns happen effortlessly.  I am a Stamford, Connecticut career coach and network facilitator for two ExecuNet meetings per month.  At each meeting, I am truly amazed at the generosity of the people in the room offering suggestions to try to help others. If you want to see what I mean, sign up for one of my meetings by going to my website and reading about networking. Register and come on down to see what it is all about.  I am a Fairfield County career coach and am pleased to have you attend.

In the next post, I will continue with Part 3 of Networking Your Way To Success. As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  Every success in your search!