One effective method in improving your chances of finding a new career is by going to local events and networking. The reason for this can be put into one word—People. The more people you meet the greater your opportunities of finding someone who either knows of a position, or better yet is the person doing the hiring.
Who is coming to the event
You can just show up at these events and wander around meeting people. Eventually, you might meet a beneficial contact. What would help increase your chances of finding and creating a successful relationship is the game plan you develop before going.
Most events, especially in this day of online registration, have a list of those attending the event. Wow. Now you have the names of people who will be there. Take this list and do some research.
The first place to start your research is Linkedin. This is a great place to find information about the people at this event. Linkedin should help you discover what company they work for. If you are lucky it could be the person you need to talk to that does the hiring, or at least a good connection into one of your target companies. Even if none of the people on the list you have are from one of your target companies you do not know who they know. Extending your circle of influence can not hurt. So, get on Linkedin and look over profiles. You might find some commonalities, like the same college or Linkedin groups. There is a great deal of information that you can find on Linkedin. What you find can help get conversations started. Or, you might notice something that they posted in a group or on their status update that you can answer for them. Doing it in person is a little more beneficial than only online.
Google the people on the list and see what you can find out about them. Here you might be able to find things like news articles, or blogs they write. Whatever you find is another item you can use to startup conversations.
Remember, people do like to talk about themselves.
Now you have the first part of your game plan done. The next step is what to do once you are there.
The event has a time limit. You will not be able to meet all the people at the event. Your research got you names. Now add time management to the meet and greet.
Just as the event has a time limit, so do your conversations. You need to determine how productive your conversations are going. If it is not going anywhere move on. If you feel that you will be better off staying longer with a particular person then stay. Yes, talking to a number of people could build up your chances of meeting someone of influence, but meeting too many people to quickly could by-pass the opportunity to develop a stronger mutually beneficial relationship.
When meeting new people, especially high level people, takes confidence. Taking the time to learn as much as you can, and having a good game plan before meeting them, the more confident you will be. And, the more confident you are the more effective you will be.
One thing people tend to forget is to follow-up. If you do not follow-up what is the point of doing that research and meeting new people. Remember, one key point to following up is not to ask directly for them to help you. The key to the follow-up is developing the relationship. Try making the follow-up of value to them. Perhaps while you were talking at the event you had to get more information from home (perhaps you mentioned a book but could not at the time remember the title or author).
Your follow-up could also come from a Google Alert.
There was a reason you picked someone to meet over all the other people at the event. You saw them as a potential center of influence. If you create a Google Alert for this person the next time they are mentioned on the Internet you will be notified. Now you have a unique opportunity to contact that person and become re-acquainted.
When creating your Google Alert put quotes around their name to make certain that you get that person and not several different people with the same first or last name.
That Google Alert might tell you that person just received an award, or were interviewed by the local news. Send them a congratulatory message, or a link to the story. Oh, if you do send a link also include a quote from it showing that you did read the article.
Remember, events can be more than just a place to get handouts or a free bite. It is a tremendous opportunity to build-up your network. And it is also a great place to assist others in developing their network.
By David McDermit @dmcder