Recipe for a Successful Networking Meeting

Those new to networking often have questions about what a successful networking meeting looks like.  While each meeting will vary somewhat depending on the participants and the situation, there is indeed a recipe for a successful meeting.

Opening – Make a Connection

  • Shake hands and make eye contact
  • Introduce yourself and if someone connected you, be sure to reference the connection
  • Demonstrate genuine interest in your contact
  • Take the lead from your contact if this is strictly professional
  • If you need to break the ice, ask how their day is going
  • You can comment on photos or articles in their office
  • Confirm the time you agreed upon for this meeting
Image Courtesy of baerpm.wordpress.com

Image Courtesy of baerpm.wordpress.com

Questions and Answers – Learn about the Company & Industry

Be prepared to conduct an informational interview

Ask your contact questions about his/her roles and responsibilities,  and the career path that led to this current position

Ask questions about the company and industry, be prepared with questions based on your research

Ask for their advice

Ask for contacts they recommend you speak with and professional associations they suggest you join

Closing – Thank You

  • Bring the meeting to a timely close
  • Confirm any agreed upon next steps
  • Say thank you for their time and insight
  • Ask if you can stay in touch, suggest connecting via Linked In
  • Share your contact information
  • Follow up with a handwritten thank you note

To maximize the value of the connection, be sure to follow up on any next steps and reach out to any connections they recommended.  Keep you contact posted on your progress.

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Managing Nervousness

Great news, from the mountain of applicants for the position, they found your resume and the recruiter has called you for an interview.  Bad news, you are a bundle of nerves about the interview.  How can you survive this process and land the job you want?  How can you keep your nerves under control?

 

Image Courtesy of theiet.org

Image Courtesy of theiet.org

 

Keep Your Perspective

  • Allow yourself to feel good about being selected for the interview.  Clearly they saw something in your resume and cover letter that makes them want to invest time to get to know more about you.  This is great news and should give you confidence.
  • Remember, the interviewer wants you to succeed.  If it is a recruiter, they are anxious to find qualified candidates they can send to the hiring manager.  If it goes well, you’ve made their job easier.  If it is the hiring manager, they want someone who can do the job and that they will enjoy working with.
  • Think positive thoughts.  Stay focused on the skills you bring to the position and your interest in the role and the company.  Try to envision yourself in the new role.

 

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

  • The more prepared you are for the interview, the easier it will be to manage your anxiety
  • Review the job description carefully.  Have examples of work you have done that demonstrates your ability to perform in this new job.  If it is something you have never done before, share an example of how quickly you learned new aspects of your current job.
  • Research the company and the people you will be meeting ahead of time.  Have specific thoughtful questions prepared that you can ask your interviewer.  Demonstrate that you have done your homework.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.  Don’t go to the interview on an empty stomach and stay hydrated.
  • Spend time with a friend or family member prior to the interview.  Tell them why you would be the best person for the job.  Before you can convince the interviewer, you need to convince yourself.  Go in feeling confident.
  • Identify sample interview questions and think about your answers in advance.  Don’t memorize them but feel confident about how you want to answer typical questions.
  • Have examples prepared for behavioral questions.  Be prepared to summarize the situation, identify the actions you took and the results of those actions.  You can find sample behavioral questions online for reference.
  • If you have not had recent interview experience, ask a friend or mentor to practice mock interviews with you to help you prepare.  Ask for specific, actionable feedback to help you focus your preparation.
  • Picture yourself confidently presenting your job-related skills and answering the questions clearly and effectively.
  • Be sure you know where you are going and allow plenty of time to get there.

 

Focus

  • Arrive a few minutes early.  Use the waiting time to collect your thoughts and gather your confidence.  If you get sweaty palms, use the rest room to wash your hands.
  • Treat everyone you come in contact with at the company as if they have the authority to hire you.  You never know who will be asked for input.
  • Greet the interviewer with a smile and enthusiastic greeting.  Let them know you are happy to be there and are excited about the opportunity.
  • Maintain eye contact and listen carefully.
  • Take quiet deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your nose to stay calm and focused.
  • If necessary, admit that you are feeling nervous.  Sometimes it helps relieve stress to verbalize it and the interviewer may have empathy.  Frame it as “Despite all my preparation, I still feel nervous because I’m so very interested in this opportunity.”
  • Ask if you can take notes, sometimes it helps relieve stress to be doing something.  Capture just high level points.
  • Stay in the moment – this is the best place for you to be at this time.  Don’t worry about anything else and don’t worry about next steps.  Stay focused on the interview.
  • Be a confident YOU.  Don’t try to be someone you are not.

 

Follow Up

  • Thank the interviewer for their time.  Reinforce your strong interest in the opportunity and ask about next steps.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours.  If the process is moving quickly send an email thank you as well.

 

The better prepared you are for the interview, the more confident you can be in the moment.  Prepare yourself for success.