If your approach to building your network is similar to firing a round of buckshot into the air, reconsider it. You might hit something, but will that connection really pay off? When it comes down to it, there are only 4 types of people you need in your network. Target your networking methods to them and you’ll save hours of your precious time.
For all of these connections, never lead with a self-serving, puerile request to connect. It leads to dead ends or at worst, a public and demeaning rejection. Always approach networking with the intent to build a long-lasting relationship.
• The Industry Superstar – They are a vocal presence on LinkedIn. They are featured as keynote speakers at conferences. New ideas are percolating through their brains and you need to get them in your network ASAP.
Don’t psyche yourself up by putting these people on a pedestal. The way to add them to your network is as simple as striking up a conversation. Industry insight is the way to their hearts. So ask questions, fuel discussions, and use trending industry topics to make headway towards a relationship online or in-person.
Often, a great way to do this is ask for a few mentoring tips. As always, you want to show your value, but the industry superstar is often flattered by these requests.
• The Out-of-Towner – Whether outside your metro area, outside your region, or on the opposite end of the map, it’s good to network beyond your neck of the woods. Dreams opportunities can open up outside of your local sphere. Why limit yourself to a certain square mileage?
The beauty of building your network outside of your region is that even introverts can strike up an online conversation. Break the ice on LinkedIn or other forums and you avoid business cards, awkward pauses, and the nerve-wrecking start and stop of face-to-face conversation.
In time, schedule a meet up at an industry convention (either at home or on the road). People are far more inclined to eventually help someone who they’ve physically met.
• The Insider – For most of us, there’s at least one company on our radar that seems like an absolute fit. If you’re lucky, you know of a few. When building your network, it’s instrumental to make connections in these companies. That way, you have inroads long before you ever apply.
Don’t jump the gun and reach out to the first company representative you find. Search company directories and LinkedIn profiles to find the best fit. Check your network for any direct connections. If they are willing to make an introduction, make contact immediately. Then, send a brief message (think elevator pitch) and ask a few well-researched questions about the company.
Never stumble in without having done prior research. It’s a surefire way to alienate people who might otherwise be receptive.
• The Driven Recruiter – Good recruiters are essential to building your network. They can help you refine your job search, spice up your resume, and navigate around interviews questions from your ideal employer. Yet recruiters are going to be turned off by any message to connect that sounds too desperate.
An email or LinkedIn message is the best way to reach out. Be straightforward, sell your value, and exude professionalism. Recruiters encounter legions of underqualified or unprofessional on a regular basis. Show that you stand apart and you’ll have their attention.
Once you’ve made your connection, they can help you further target your networking methods. And in no time, you’ll have an open path to a new job that fits you. If you’re interested, give one of our recruiters a call today to build your network in incredible ways.
by James Walsh