‘I just love networking’ is not a sentence we hear so often. For most of us, networking may feel unnatural, uncomfortable, or even phony. Worry no more; Nicolas Constantinesco, founder of the career accelerator Promeo, shares some insightful tips for effective networking.This article offers an edited version of the conversation hosted by Carmen Gonzalez.
Why is networking so important?
Let me give you three reasons. Firstly, networking enables you to get things done. It gives you access to people, resources, ideas, and funds.
Secondly, it's extremely helpful for career advancement. It's through networks that we get invited to participate in important high-exposure projects.
Finally, it opens the door to a hidden market. Only some 30% of the jobs that need to be filled are advertised online — the other 70% are hidden. The only way to find out about these jobs is through networking.
What are your top three tips for effective networking?
Number one: the real value of networking comes from one-on-one meetings. During these you can build a relationship and get useful outcomes.
For tip number two I recommend that you network with people who are ‘givers’ or ‘boosters’. They do two important things. One, they make the whole experience more pleasant because they enjoy the idea of helping you. Second, they are generally very well networked and so they are also successful people.
The third tip is about networking in the right way. Don't use networking to ask for a job; the moment you do, people will get turned off. Use networking to gain useful insights in your job search process.
What should we talk about to increase engagement in a one-on-one?
Let's start with the don'ts. Don't ask for a job and don't use networking to impress. The key is to work out in advance what you want from a conversation – and then ask those questions. It's fine if the topic is very specific and narrow.
What's the best way to follow up?
During the conversation you can create a follow-up opportunity. If the other person alludes to a need they have – then let them know if you might be able to help them.
Another good habit is to send a thank-you note within 24 hours of a conversation. It shouldn't be just a generic note, but a short and sincere text where you recap one or more valuable points that you learned in the conversation.
Remember that if they give some advice, put it into practice, and let them know how it worked out a couple of weeks later.
And finally, you can send updates – short sweet but meaningful notes about how you’re doing since you talked. This shows you are polite, considerate, thoughtful, that you're making progress – and so you stay on their radar.
What's the main mistake to avoid when they're talking?
Avoid being the type of person who tries to impress others and then disappears once you get what you want. This sort of behavior doesn’t help build relationships and could tarnish your reputation.
What's the best way to reach out to someone that you don’t know through LinkedIn?
Simple: it's the six-point message from Steve Dalton's The 2-Hour Job Search. I recommend listening to your previous podcast with him.
Which are good icebreaking questions to ask at a networking event?
First, don't put pressure on yourself. Be authentic. The best questions are non-intrusive and sincere. Show that you're interested in the person, their decisions, their perspectives, and their opinions.
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